Cardin, McCain Call on Administration to Review 20 Individuals for Sanctions Under Global Magnitsky Act
Washington, D.C.—Human Rights First today applauded a bipartisan congressional request for review of sanctions designations against 20 individuals responsible for human rights abuses and high-level corruption under the 2016 Global Magnitsky Human Rights Accountability Act. The request came in the form of a letter from Senators Ben Cardin (D-MD) and John McCain (R-AZ) to President Trump. Since the Global Magnitsky Act’s enactment, Human Rights First has led an effort to coordinate the work of nearly 50 non-governmental organizations helping to implement the law by compiling information into case files on would-be sanctions designees.
“Today’s announcement sends a clear, bipartisan signal to the administration that Congress seeks to hold corrupt actors and the world’s worst violators of human rights accountable. Sanctions under the Global Magnitsky Act are a potentially powerful tool of U.S. diplomacy, but the Trump Administration has to be willing to use them,” said Human Rights First’s Rob Berschinski. “This is a test case for Secretary Tillerson. In his confirmation hearing he testified that he supports the law, but he’s since signaled that he sees little reason for the United States to stand up for human rights. Now he has a choice: he can stand with governments that torture, murder, and steal, or he can stand with the activists who are working to fight these abuses.”
The Global Magnitsky Act is the most comprehensive human rights and anti-corruption focused sanctions tool in U.S. history. Passed with bipartisan support and signed into law in December 2016, the law is named after whistleblower Sergei Magnitsky, who was imprisoned and murdered in 2009 by Russian authorities after exposing a large-scale fraud. Under the act, the U.S. government may sanction foreign individuals and entities found to have committed gross violations of human rights or to have engaged in significant acts of corruption by subjecting designees to asset freezes and visa restrictions. It expands upon the 2012 Magnitsky Act, which only applied to Russian individuals and entities.
Human Rights First urges President Trump, Secretary Tillerson, and Secretary Mnuchin to make good on pledges to implement the Global Magnitsky Act and end impunity for human rights violators and corrupt officials.