Human Rights, Democracy, and Anti-Corruption Groups Call on Congress to Support Global Magnitsky
Washington, D.C.—On March 28, a group of 40 human rights, democracy, and anti-corruption organizations and experts led by Human Rights First and Freedom House called on congressional leaders to appropriate dedicated funding to support robust enforcement of the Global Magnitsky Human Rights Accountability Act. The call came in letters to the chairpersons and ranking members of House and Senate appropriations subcommittees who oversee budgets for the Departments of State, Treasury, and Justice.
“Abusive and corrupt leaders around the world have taken clear notice that their personal assets and ability to travel can be held by Global Magnitsky sanctions. But for this tool to remain effective, it must be used, and used smartly,” said Human Rights First’s Rob Berschinski. “The workforces at State and Treasury that administer the Global Magnitsky program are under severe strain, and the fiscal year 2020 budget proposal put forward by the Trump Administration would further gut their ability to hold human rights abusers and corrupt actors accountable for their actions. A relatively small amount of dedicated funding from Congress in support of Global Magnitsky Act implementation would go a considerable distance in advancing a key U.S. foreign policy priority.”
If allocated, one million dollars in additional funding for each of the three departments in fiscal year 2020 would allow for timely investigation of human rights violations and corrupt acts, as well as the assembly and dissemination of targeted sanctions designations.
The Global Magnitsky Act “enjoys broad bipartisan support, and is widely viewed as one of the United States’ most effective methods for addressing human rights abuses and corruption—two key drivers of instability around the world,” wrote the groups. “Corruption and human rights abuses perpetuate and are born from violence and criminal activity, and exact an enormous toll socially, economically, and militarily…Addressing corruption and human rights abuses is of paramount importance for U.S. foreign policy, and Global Magnitsky sanctions are one of the most powerful tools for doing so.”
The Global Magnitsky Act is the most comprehensive and targeted human rights- and anti-corruption sanctions tool in U.S. history. Passed with bipartisan support and signed into law in December 2016, the law enables the U.S. government to 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. Since 2017, Human Rights First has coordinated the work of dozens of NGOs around the world who submit credible information to the U.S. government in pursuit of sanctions designations.