U.S. Should Use Magnitsky Sanctions against Abusive Security Partners

WASHINGTON, D.C. – With the United States government doing too little to address serious human rights abuses and corruption by its security partners, Human Rights First published a new report that urges the U.S. to use Global Magnitsky sanctions to hold perpetrators accountable in both allied and adversarial countries.

“To show there are real consequences for serious abuses, the U.S. government must stop giving a pass to its security partners and take more aggressive action through targeted sanctions,” said Adam Keith, Director of Accountability at Human Rights First. “Because the U.S. government has close ties with abusive and corrupt actors, it has both a responsibility to hold them accountable and an opportunity to help spur real change.”

The new report, Friends Like These: U.S. Security Partners and Selectivity in the Global Magnitsky Sanctions Program, details widespread patterns of extrajudicial killings, torture, sexual violence, significant corruption, and other sanctionable acts committed by state officials in Egypt, Equatorial Guinea, India, Mexico, and the Philippines. It notes that the U.S. government has yet to respond with Global Magnitsky sanctions or other measures.

“In places like Bangladesh, Liberia, Latvia, and elsewhere, the U.S. government’s use of Global Magnitsky sanctions for abuses by security partners has had positive, sometimes dramatic impacts such as prompting the suspension of officials from office, sparking domestic investigations, and proving that the partner government could stop the abuses if it chose,” said Keith. “The U.S. government should impose sanctions for similar, even more egregious abuses and corruption by its security partners, as these tools could help produce similar steps toward accountability.”

The cases identified in the report originate partly from civil society recommendations to the U.S. government that identified state perpetrators of widespread abuses in these countries. Human Rights First helps coordinate a coalition of more than 330 civil society organizations around the world that advocates for accountability through the use of targeted human rights and anti-corruption sanctions.

Since 2017, the coalition has worked with civil society groups to provide more than 150 sanctions recommendations that identify perpetrators eligible for human rights and corruption sanctions to the U.S. government and its partners.


Published on November 30, 2022


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