Diplomat questioned Canadian company’s arms sale to South Sudan

Hentet fra The Globe and Mail | Av Geoffrey York

A former Canadian ambassador has questioned the ethics of a Canadian company’s sale of dozens of armoured vehicles to South Sudan’s military, which deployed them in a civil war that has killed tens of thousands of civilians.

In a newly published memoir, Nicholas Coghlan said he spoke to Ottawa officials and raised questions about the armoured vehicles sale when he learned of it while he was serving as Canada’s ambassador to South Sudan.

The Globe and Mail reported last year that Canadian-owned Streit Group had sold the vehicles to South Sudan, where they were used in combat. A report by United Nations experts last year said South Sudan had purchased 173 armoured vehicles from Streit in 2014, after the war began.

Read more: Canadian company sold armoured vehicles to South Sudan: report

Mr. Coghlan said he was tipped off to the export deal in early 2015 by someone on social media who sent him a photo of the South Sudan military using the armoured vehicles to attack rebel positions.

«I followed up and the allegation was correct,» Mr. Coghlan writes in his book, Collapse of a Country, published this month by McGill-Queen’s University Press.

Lawyers in the federal government told him the vehicle export could not be prohibited by export-control laws because the vehicles were manufactured at an overseas Streit factory in the United Arab Emirates, even though the company itself was Canadian, he said.

«The legal case was watertight; it seemed to me that the ethical case was not,» he wrote in the book.

He also noted the vehicle export made it possible for people to accuse Canadian diplomats of «hypocrisy» for criticizing South Sudan’s crimes while a Canadian company was simultaneously selling arms to the country.

UN reports and other human-rights reports have documented a long pattern of massacres, rapes and destruction by South Sudan’s army since the war erupted in December, 2013. It has become one of the bloodiest wars in the world.