Human Rights First Meets with State and Treasury Departments on Human Rights and Corruption Sanctions
Washington, D.C.—Today, Human Rights First and ten other non-governmental organizations (NGOs) met with representatives from the Departments of State and Treasury to discuss sanctions recommendations under the Global Magnitsky Human Rights Accountability Act.
In the meeting, the NGO representatives discussed sanctions recommendations in 21 individual cases concerning alleged human rights abuses and acts of corruption in 14 countries around the world. The information provided to the U.S. government supports the imposition of targeted sanctions against human rights abusers and corrupt actors in Azerbaijan, Bahrain, Burundi, Cambodia, the Central African Republic, China, the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), Honduras, Hungary, Malaysia, Russia, Sudan, Turkey, and Vietnam. Members of the group also voiced support for Global Magnitsky Act sanctions to be imposed against human rights abusers in Burma and Egypt. Each participating NGO recommended sanctions targets based on their areas of expertise and ongoing work.
“In the Global Magnitsky Act, the U.S. government has been given a powerful tool to deter some of the world’s worst murderers, torturers, rapists, and thieves. Human rights and anti-corruption NGOs continue to bring the U.S. government credible information about these crimes. Some of this information has been used to good effect, but much more can be done to deter abuses and provide justice to victims,” said Rob Berschinski, Senior Vice President for Policy at Human Rights First.
Human Rights First welcomed the U.S. government’s recent actions to sanction human rights abusers and corrupt actors under the Global Magnitsky Act, including designations of individuals in Burma, Cambodia, the Dominican Republic, China, the DRC, Gambia, Guatemala, Nicaragua, Pakistan, Russia, Serbia, South Sudan, Turkey, Ukraine, and Uzbekistan. The organization continues to call upon the U.S. government to sanction human rights violators and corrupt actors wherever it can deter violations and protect victims, including in the Middle East and with respect to America’s security partners.
Today’s meeting involved members of a coalition of NGOs organized by Human Rights First that have worked together to bring credible information to the U.S. government on potential sanctions designees.
“Frequently, human rights and anti-corruption activists are the best sources of information on abuses taking place within a given country. Somewhat uniquely, the Global Magnitsky Act calls on the U.S. government to engage with NGOs on this valuable information. To their credit, officials at State and Treasury are taking this obligation seriously. But ultimately, it’s the government’s responsibility to act on what they’re given,” added Berschinski.
The Global Magnitsky Human Rights Accountability Act is the most comprehensive human rights and anti-corruption 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. The law expands upon the 2012 Magnitsky Act, which applied only to Russian individuals and entities. To date, the U.S. government has sanctioned 22 individuals and 56 associated entities through five separate rounds of Global Magnitsky Act sanctions designations.