December 2017, the Trump administration kicked off a new round of sanctions against several South Sudanese officials and businessmen curtailing South Sudan’s access to international banking.
This round of sanctions came as a surprise to most South Sudanese when a South Sudanese businessman, Benjamin Bol was included in the list of those sanctioned considering the fact that Bol Mel, at least ostensibly, hasn’t done anything of wrong to incur the wrath of U.S. sanctions. The justification for the new sanctions was puzzling for at least two reasons.
First, the State Department announced it was sanctioning Bol Mel and other people around the world over alleged human rights abuses and corruption.
“Today, the United States is taking a strong stand against human rights abuse and corruption globally by shutting these bad actors out of the U.S. financial system. Treasury is freezing their assets and publicly denouncing the egregious acts they’ve committed, sending a message that there is a steep price to pay for their misdeeds,” said Secretary of the Treasury Steven T. Mnuchin. “At the direction of President Trump, Treasury and our interagency partners will continue to take decisive and impactful actions to hold accountable those who abuse human rights, perpetrate corruption, and undermine American ideals.”
Given that Bol Mel hasn’t done any gross human right abuse or corruption lately to warrant new sanctions — it looks like the Trump administration is sanctioning Bol because it was ill informed, not because there are legitimate reasons to do so.
Organizations like, The Enough Project is a Washington, D.C. based non-profit organization that was founded in 2007 have mislead U.S. government into making rushed decision that are causing more harm than good to the people of South Sudan.
Bol Mel, a hardworking man with a humble background, is a former Red Army who turned to be a businessman in South Sudan.
Alleged connections with the presidency are not valid and have been proven to be false. So, the claims that Bol Mel has been awarded contracts on suspicious ground are unfounded.
Bol Mel started doing business in 2004 while still a student at USIU, a prestigious university in Nairobi, Kenya.
While still studying, his entrepreneurial skills allowed him to start selling computers and stationaries to students before moving to Rumbek to establish his business.
He founded multi-millions Company Known as ABMC with some investors. The company improved constructions of roads and agricultural projects in Juba and other parts of the country South Sudan that has employed thousands of youths
Between 2009 to 2012, Bol Mel, through Bol Mel Foundation, sponsored hundreds of students to further their studies in various universities in East Africa. This project lifted many South Sudanese from the poverty cycle.
The sanction made it hard for Bol Mel to continue paying for these students. Some of them had to drop out of school.
The sanction has curtailed Bol Mel’s businesses, which has a substantial adverse economic impact on South Sudan.
Bol Mel, a true patriotic, has done a lot for South Sudanese. From constructions of schools, hospital, houses of worship and providing assorted food items to thousands of starving South Sudanese.
He is the last person in South Sudan to deserve sanction.
These sanctions U.S. has imposed on several individuals is not practical since it only affects those who are doing legit business.
What’s perhaps the most puzzling is the United States’ insistence on sanctions as its preeminent tool of diplomacy despite an abundance of evidence that suggests sanctions aren’t as potent as their proponents believe them to be.
According to research on the efficacy of sanctions, sanctions have about a 4% success rate in achieving their stated purpose. So why does the United States continue to use economic sanctions as a one-size-fits-all approach to all predicaments of foreign policy?