‘A potentially revolutionary tool’ – Global Magnitsky sanctions set in motion


Police and spy chiefs from China to the Middle East, a Ukrainian oligarch and a former president of Panama are among the people a coalition of human rights groups wants targeted for sanctions under an expanded US law aimed at curbing rights abuses and corruption worldwide. The coalition submitted 15 cases to the US State Department and US Treasury, urging them to investigate using the law, called the Global Magnitsky Act, Reuters reports:

The law, which then-president Barack Obama signed in December 2016, expands the scope of 2012 legislation that froze the assets of Russian officials and banned them from travelling to the United States because of their links to the 2009 death in prison of a whistleblower, Sergey Magnitsky (above)…. “The cases we have elected to highlight come from every region of the world, and involve horrific stories of torture, enforced disappearance, murder, sexual assault, extortion and bribery,” the coalition of 23 groups said in a letter to US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and US Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin….Police chiefs, public prosecutors and heads of security services in Bahrain, China, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Mexico and Central Asian countries where prisoners were tortured, executed or died in custody are on the list compiled by the groups, which are coordinated by Washington-based Human Rights First.

Late last week, The White House gave the U.S. State and Treasury Departments the authority to impose sanctions under the Global Magnitsky Act, which was signed into law last December after passing Congress as part of an annual defense authorization bill, The Wall Street Journal adds.

“’Global Magnitsky’ is a potentially revolutionary tool” the groups said. “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.”

A Global Magnitsky Act (GMA) would punish dictators, despots, and their co-conspirators who deprive citizens of fundamental human rights through torture, forced disappearance, and assassination — and the corrupt seizure of lucrative private assets, former New Mexico governor Bill Richardson writes for The Hill:

The latter corruption, state-sanctioned confiscation of successful businesses, is exemplified by government-led corporate raiding that has grown tragically commonplace in many post-Soviet countries, such as Bulgaria. Labeled by multiple international agencies and organizations as the “most corrupt country in the European Community,” it is not surprising that a capstone example of sanctionable corruption under GMA would occur in Bulgaria.

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