Human Rights First Welcomes Initial Global Magnitsky Sanctions Designations and Calls for Additional Accountability
Washington, D.C. – Human Rights First applauds the Trump Administration’s decision to designate 15 foreign individuals and 37 entities under the 2016 Global Magnitsky Human Rights Accountability Act for gross violations of human rights and significant acts of corruption. The sanctions impose targeted asset freezes and visa restrictions on powerful politicians and individuals in business, law enforcement, military leadership, and organized crime from over a dozen countries around the world. Since the Global Magnitsky Act’s enactment, Human Rights First has coordinated the efforts of dozens of non-government organizations advocating for its implementation, and has led efforts to assist the U.S. government in assembling viable case files on potential sanctions designees.
“The Trump Administration sent the right signal to human rights abusers and corrupt actors around the world: that they are being watched and will be held accountable for their actions,” said Human Rights First’s Rob Berschinski. “That said, clearly these designations touch only a handful of the world’s worst criminals, and should be seen as only an initial salvo. The Trump Administration should continue to use Global Magnitsky sanctions to demonstrate to human rights abusers around the world that their actions will be met with consequences, and members of Congress should continue to demand that the Act be robustly implemented.”
The Trump Administration levied sanctions against several individuals involved in cases highlighted by Human Rights First and other non-governmental organizations. These include Artem Chayka (Chaika), son of Yury Chaika, Russia’s Prosecutor General, who is suspected of using his father’s position to pressure business competitors and win lucrative state contracts. The designations also include Maung Maung Soe, a Burmese military commander responsible for human rights violations against that country’s Rohingya minority population, and Gao Yan, a senior Chinese police official involved through command responsibility in the arbitrary detention, torture, and death of human rights activist Cao Shunli.
The Global Magnitsky 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. It expands upon the 2012 Magnitsky Act, which only applied to Russian individuals and entities.