United States: Congress Should Reauthorize Global Magnitsky Human Rights Accountability Act

Without renewal, the powerful sanctions mechanism will expire in 2022.


WASHINGTON — In anticipation of an upcoming vote in the Senate Foreign Relations Committee on the Global Magnitsky Human Rights Accountability Reauthorization Act (S.93), Freedom House, Human Rights First, and The Sentry issued the following statements:

“The Global Magnitsky Act is one of the United States’ most powerful instruments for addressing human rights abuses and corruption, providing crucial accountability for perpetrators who often operate with impunity,” said Annie Boyajian, director of advocacy at Freedom House. “We call on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee to approve this reauthorization of the act so that it can move quickly through the full Senate, win passage in the House of Representatives, and be signed swiftly into law.”

“We urge members of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee to support S. 93 to reauthorize the Global Magnitsky Act, which has been a game-changer in helping to hold human rights abusers and corrupt actors accountable, weaken criminal networks, protect journalists and activists, and condemn atrocities by repressive and authoritarian regimes,” said Mike Breen, president and chief executive officer of Human Rights First. “Around the world, civil society advocates report that Global Magnitsky sanctions can and do make a difference in their fight against human rights abuses and corruption. The United States must continue to support their efforts by strengthening and reauthorizing this important foreign policy tool.”

“The Global Magnitsky Act is a compelling example of the United States showing leadership in addressing human rights abuses and corruption around the world. It has prompted our international allies to follow the US initiative and implement their own Global Magnitsky–style sanctions regimes. These sanctions are perhaps the nimblest means in our legal arsenal for responding to breaches of fundamental rights and the rule of law, allowing the United States to act quickly to designate individuals and networks engaged in predatory behavior abroad. Combating such behavior is a cross-party concern, and anyone who opposes dictatorship and kleptocracy should readily support this ongoing US foreign policy effort. We encourage Congress to reauthorize the Global Magnitsky Act without delay,” said Justyna Gudzowska, director of illicit finance policy at The Sentry.


The Global Magnitsky Human Rights Accountability Act (22 U.S.C. 2656 note) authorizes visa bans and asset freezes for foreign officials implicated in corruption and human rights abuses. Without reauthorization, the law will sunset in December 2022.

Since the Global Magnitsky Act was signed into law in 2016, targeted sanctions have been imposed under its authority on 319 human rights abusers, corrupt actors, and associated entities in 35 countries. Similar sanctions programs have been implemented by Canada, the United Kingdom, the European Union, and others and are under consideration in Australia, Taiwan, and Japan. These laws had enabled powerful multilateral cooperation, as in March 2021, when the United States, the United Kingdom, the European Union, and Canada coordinated the imposition of sanctions on Chinese officials and entities for their role in abuses against the Uyghur population and other Muslim ethnic minority groups in Xinjiang.


Published on June 22, 2021


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