A coalition of rights groups, led by Human Rights First [advocacy website], called [press release] on the US Departments of State and Treasury [official websites] Wednesday to use the Global Magnitsky Human Rights Accountability Act [text] to sanction foreign citizens accused of human violations and corruption. The organization sent a letter to Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and Secretary of the Treasury Steven Mnuchin [official websites] asking them to use the act against 15 individuals from Azerbaijan, Bahrain, China, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Egypt, Ethiopia, Liberia, Mexico, Panama, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Tajikistan, Ukraine, Uzbekistan and Vietnam.
The list of individuals are public servants who range from former presidents to judges and police chiefs who are accused but not yet convicted of any violations. Human Rights First joined with dozens of other organizations listed in the letter believe these foreign persons committed acts of corruption human rights violations including torture and murder and would like the secretaries to levy sanctions on their finances.
“Global Magnitsky” is a potentially revolutionary tool. It allows the United States the ability to sanction the world’s worst human rights violators and corrupt actors wherever they may be, putting them on notice that accountability knows no borders. Robust implementation of the Act has the potential to deter would-be kleptocrats and those that would use violence to silence dissent and maintain their grip on power, forcing these actors to think twice before committing their crimes. In short, the law positions the United States to take a leading role in the international community in combating impunity and protecting human rights defenders worldwide.
The request comes on the heels of presidential authorization [press release] of the act. The act was named in an honor of Russian whistle blower Magnitisky [JURIST report] who was murdered after producing evidence against the country.