South Sudan’s army chief Gen. Gabriel Jok Riak traveled to China last month in defiance of a United Nations ban forbidding him from international travel, a US-based watchdog said.

Gen Riak was in Beijing for the inaugural China-Africa Defence and Security Forum held last month.

Jok Riak was sanctioned by the UN in 2015 for perpetuating violence and breaching ceasefire agreements, sanctions that prohibit travel without a waiver issued by the UN.

“The Sentry has now been able to confirm that General Jok Riak did not receive an official waiver from the UN when he visited China last month for the first China-Africa Defense & Security Forum,” The group said in a statement extended to media.

Brian Adeba, Deputy Director of Policy at the Enough Project, called on the international community to strongly enforce sanctions and escalate financial pressures on South Sudan’s corrupt officials and their networks to support a sustainable peace.

Meanwhile, Joshua White, Director of Policy and Analysis at The Sentry, said the extensive diplomatic legwork needed to pass sanctions in the UN Security Council must be followed upwith strong enforcement.

He pointed out that Gen. Jok Riak’s travel to China exposes a gap in sanctions enforcement.

Jok Riak has been the subject of investigative reports by The Sentry on corruption linked to mass atrocities and violence in South Sudan.

South Sudan’s President Salva Kiir appointed General Gabriel Jok Riak as the new head of the army in March.

Riak’s appointment followed the death of army chief General James Ajongo after a short illness in Cairo in April.
Riak, from Jonglei State in the Upper Nile region, was the deputy army chief for operations and has been serving as the acting army chief.