John Prendergast Testimony to Senate Today: South Sudan not a Failed State, it’s a “Hijacked State”

For Immediate Release

John Prendergast Testimony to Senate Today:  South Sudan not a Failed State, it’s a "Hijacked State"

Washington DC, December 10, 2015 (SSNA) — In testimony today before a Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearing “Independent South Sudan: A Failure of Leadership,” Enough Project Founding Director John Prendergast described the war-torn nation as a “violent kleptocracy.”

“South Sudan and the other countries listed above are not simply failed states, as they are commonly referred to. They are hijacked states,” said Prendergast in his remarks. Prendergast joined U.S. Special Envoy Donald Booth, Ambassador Princeton Lyman, and representatives of the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) and Amnesty International in the hearing, which was convened by Senator Bob Corker, Chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee.

“This war has been hell for the people of South Sudan, but it has also been very lucrative for their leaders. ‘War crimes pay’ has been the message.” – Excerpt from Prendergast testimony

“When there are no limits to the hijacking of state resources or consequences for the use of violence to maintain power, instability and civil war are never far off.  It is in the arena of global financial investigations into the proceeds of corruption used to fund mass atrocities that the U.S. has the most potential leverage. The U.S. and other governments working genuinely for peace in South Sudan (and other war-torn African states) can only enhance their influence in supporting peace and human rights if a concerted effort is made to expand economic pressure. And the surest route to building this kind of leverage is by hitting the leaders of the rival kleptocratic factions where it hurts the most: their wallets.” – Excerpt from Prendergast testimony

Next Tuesday, December 15, will be the second anniversary of the outbreak of civil war in South Sudan. While a peace agreement has been signed between warring factions, armed violence continues and large swathes of the population remain at risk.

In his statement, Prendergast recommended approaches to bolster the peace, counter kleptocracy, and enhance accountability in South Sudan, including five financial and legal mechanisms the U.S. can pursue:

1. Enhancing the types of criteria used by the U.S Treasury Department to impose sanctions
2. Passing the Global Magnitsky Act (H.R. 4405)
3. Ensuring that sanctions are enforced by the Treasury Department
4. Directing the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN) to gather information and address potential money laundering activities
5. Building cases at the Department of Justice-led Kleptocracy Asset Recovery Initiative to investigate and prosecute cases involving the U.S. financial system.

Full testimony of John Prendergast (text):

Link to video of Senate hearing “Independent South Sudan: A Failure of Leadership”:

For media inquiries or interview requests, please contact:
Greg Hittelman, Director of Communications, +1 310 717 0606, [email protected]


The Enough Project, an atrocity prevention policy group, seeks to build leverage for peace and justice in Africa by helping to create real consequences for the perpetrators and facilitators of genocide and other mass atrocities. Enough aims to counter rights-abusing armed groups and violent kleptocratic regimes that are fueled by grand corruption, transnational crime and terror, and the pillaging and trafficking of minerals, ivory, diamonds, and other natural resources. Enough conducts field research in conflict zones, develops and advocates for policy recommendations, supports social movements in affected countries, and mobilizes public campaigns. Learn more – and join us – at

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