US State Department designates 12 foreign officials for human rights violations
© WikiMedia (The White House)
US State Department designates 12 foreign officials for human rights violations

Continuing a continued effort to infuse human rights into its foreign policy, the US Department of State Friday designated 12 officials of foreign governments for their gross violations of human rights or corruption.

US Secretary of State, Anthony Blinken, announced the sanctions in a press statement coinciding with International Human Rights Day, 2021. The designations follow coordinated measures with Canada, the EU, and the UK to sanction leaders in Myanmar and Belarus for the continued repression of their citizens.

The list of names includes four Chinese officials for their involvement in the arbitrary detention of Uyghurs and other religious and ethnic minorities; Mario Plutarco Marin Torres, the former governor of Puebla, Mexico, for his arbitrary detention and torture of journalist Lydia Cacho; and Sri Lankan naval intelligence officer Chandana Hettiarachchi for his involvement in the detainment and disappearance of the Trincomalee 11, a group of predominantly Tamil victims held for ransom at navy bases in Colombo and Trincomalee.

Under section 7031(c) of the Department of State, Foreign Operations, and Related Programs Appropriation Act, individuals for which there is credible evidence that they have been involved in gross violations of human rights can be designated and become ineligible for entry into the united states.

“We are determined to put human rights at the center of our foreign policy,” Blinken states, “and we reaffirm this commitment by using appropriate tools and authorities to draw attention to and promote accountability for human rights violations and abuses, no matter where they occur.”

The Department of the Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control also imposed sanctions on 15 individuals and 10 entities for their roles in severe human rights abuse and repression. The list includes the Chinese firm SenseTime, Russian university European Institute Justo, and four Chief Ministers of Myanmar who almost certainly approved the use of violence against their people.