Human Rights First Applauds Senate Action on Jamal Khashoggi, Global Magnitsky
New York City—In response to a letter signed by a bipartisan group of 22 senators—including the chairperson and ranking members of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on State, Foreign Operations, and Related Programs—which triggered an investigation into and consideration of the use of Global Magnitsky sanctions against those responsible for the disappearance and alleged killing of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi, Human Rights First’s Senior Vice President for Policy Rob Berschinski issued the following statement:
Kudos to Senators Corker (R-TN), Menendez (D-NJ), Graham (R-SC), Leahy (D-VT), and their colleagues, who did exactly the right thing concerning the alleged murder of journalist and dissident Jamal Khashoggi. By triggering, for the first time ever, executive action under the Global Magnitsky Act, this bipartisan group of lawmakers sent a powerful signal that, no matter who you are, wanton disregard for human rights and basic standards of conduct will not be accepted by the United States. While there is still much we don’t know about what exactly happened to Khashoggi, cases like his are exactly why the Global Magnitsky Human Rights Accountability Act exists.
It’s to the credit of senators from both political parties that they have demanded action from the White House. Now the Trump Administration needs to act, first by carrying out a credible investigation of what occurred, and then by holding responsible parties accountable, irrespective of the position they hold in the Saudi government. Members of the Senate made crystal clear that accountability for this brazen alleged crime should know no bounds, “including with respect to the highest ranking officials in the Government of Saudi Arabia.” The White House needs to take this unequivocal, bipartisan message to heart.
We should also not lose sight of the fact that, if proven true, the Saudi government’s actions concerning Khashoggi are not that government’s only behavior worthy of censure and sanction. The Saudi- and United Arab Emirates-led intervention in Yemen has killed and maimed tens of thousands of Yemeni civilians, and put millions more at the risk of famine. In most instances, we don’t know the names and faces of these men, women, and children, but they are each just as deserving of justice.
On October 10, a bipartisan group of 22 senators, including all but one member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, addressed a letter to President Trump that invoked, for the first time, Section 1263(d) of the Global Magnitsky Human Rights Accountability Act of 2016 (P.L. 114–328). When triggered by the chairperson and ranking member of an appropriate congressional committee, this provision requires the president, not later than 120 days after receiving the request, to determine whether foreign persons have engaged in human rights abuses, and submit to Congress a report on that determination, including concerning whether the president intends to impose Global Magnitsky sanctions. Human Rights First called for Congress to take this step when news broke of the alleged Khaggoshi murder.
For two years, Human Rights First has organized a global coalition of human rights and anti-corruption NGOs that have worked together to bring credible information to the U.S. government on potential sanctions designees under the Global Magnitsky Act.
For more information or to speak with Berschinski, contact Corinne Duffy at [email protected] or at 202-370-3319