Today, the United States took action against the notorious leader of a murderous group that has committed numerous human rights abuses and displaced thousands of people in the Central African Republic (CAR) since 2015. The United States acted pursuant to Executive Order 13667 and alongside the UN in designating Bi Sidi Souleymane, also known as Sidiki Abbas, who leads the Central African Republic based militia group Return, Reclamation, Rehabilitation (3R). 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, 3R members and Souleymane himself 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.
Souleymane was designated for being responsible for the targeting of women, children, or civilians through the commission of acts of violence, abduction, forced displacement, or attacks on civilian, religious, 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. Moreover, Souleymane himself has directly perpetrated torture in CAR.
The United States supports the February 2019 Political Agreement for Peace and Reconciliation in the Central African Republic. This Agreement holds the best hope for a future free of violence and instability for Central Africans. This Agreement states that any violation is likely to expose the perpetrators to international sanctions. In June 2020, 3R announced the suspension of its participation in the Agreement’s implementation. Today’s action signals that the United States will not tolerate those who commit human rights abuses and will prevent such actors from benefiting from the U.S. financial system. Additionally, the corresponding UN sanctions obligate all UN Member States to impose an asset freeze and travel ban on Souleymane.