Corresponding UN Security Council Designation Highlights Global Focus on CAR
Washington – Today, the U.S. Department of the Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC), corresponding with an action by the United Nations Security Council, took action against Bi Sidi Souleymane (Souleymane), also known as Sidiki Abbas. Souleymane leads the Central African Republic (CAR)-based militia group Return, Reclamation, Rehabilitation (3R), which has killed, tortured, raped, or displaced thousands of people since 2015. Souleymane himself has also directly participated in torture. In addition to Treasury’s action, the UN Security Council’s CAR Sanctions Committee has implemented an asset freeze and travel ban on Souleymane.
“Under Souleymane’s leadership, the 3R militia committed brutal atrocities against innocent civilians,” said Deputy Secretary Justin G. Muzinich. “The United States will continue to aggressively use its tools and authorities to target and expose human rights abusers, wherever they are.”
3R, one of numerous militias and armed groups currently operating in the CAR, uses murder, kidnapping, and illicit taxation to achieve its goals, as well as clashes with other militias. On September 27, 2016, 3R raided the village of De Gaulle, killing at least 17 villagers, and raping women and girls. During and immediately after 3R’s raid on De Gaulle, Souleymane and other 3R members tortured villagers. On May 21, 2019, 3R killed at least 34 unarmed civilians in three villages in northwest CAR’s Ouham-Pendé province, summarily executing adult males. 3R conducted this violence despite signing a peace agreement on February 6, 2019. Following numerous unilateral violations of the Peace Agreement, 3R announced its suspension of participation in Peace Agreement implementation in June 2020.
Executive Order (E.O.) 13667 authorizes designation of persons contributing to the conflict in the CAR, including those who are responsible for serious abuse or violation of human rights in the CAR, or those threatening the peace, security, or stability of the CAR, among other criteria. OFAC has previously designated human rights abusers in the CAR, including the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA), LRA leader Joseph Kony, and his sons, LRA commanders Salim and Ali Kony. OFAC has also designated numerous anti-Balaka and ex-Seleka militia leaders for threatening the peace, security, or stability of the CAR and individuals and entities supporting armed groups with weapons and money.
OFAC designated Souleymane pursuant to E.O. 13667 for being responsible for the targeting of women, children, or any civilians through the commission of acts of violence (including killing, maiming, torture, or rape or other sexual violence), abduction, forced displacement, or attacks on schools, hospitals, religious sites, or locations where civilians are seeking refuge, or through conduct that would constitute a serious abuse or violation of human rights or a violation of international humanitarian law.
As a result of today’s action, all property and interests in property of Souleymane that are in or come within the United States or that are in the possession or control of U.S. persons must be blocked and reported to OFAC. OFAC’s regulations generally prohibit all dealings by U.S. persons or those within (or transiting) the United States that involve any property or interests in property of designated persons. Additionally, the corresponding UN sanctions obligate all UN Member States to impose an asset freeze and travel ban.