Advocacy letter

House Appropriations Subcommittee on State and Foreign Operations Urged to Increase Global Magnitsky Funding

Freedom House joins 40 organizations in writing to the House Appropriations Subcommittee on State and Foreign Operations in support of congressional funding for implementation of Global Magnitsky sanctions.

The Honorable Ninta Lowey
House Appropriations Subcommittee on State and Foreign Operations
HT-2, The Capitol
Washington, DC 20515

The Honorable Hal Rogers
Ranking Member
House Appropriations Subcommittee on State and Foreign Operations
Washington, DC 20515

Dear Chairwoman Lowey and Ranking Member Rogers,

We, the undersigned democracy, human rights, and anti-corruption organizations and experts, write to request that $1 million in additional funding be included in the Fiscal Year 2020 State, Foreign Operations, and Related Programs appropriations bill to ensure robust enforcement of the Global Magnitsky Human Rights Accountability Act (PL 114-328, Subtitle F).

The Global Magnitsky Act, which authorizes visa bans and asset freezes for human rights abusers and corrupt officials, is one of the most powerful foreign policy tools created in recent memory. It enjoys broad bipartisan support, and is widely viewed as one of the United States’ most effective methods for addressing human rights abuses and corruption – two key drivers of instability around the world.

We have collectively documented numerous firsthand accounts from human rights activists around the world about the law’s powerful deterrent and accountability effects on corrupt activity and human rights abuses. Authoritarian leaders have taken notice. The law’s novel provision requiring the consideration of information submitted by international human rights organizations has empowered civil society to play a key role in holding kleptocrats and abusive actors to account, helping to energize and organize collaborative efforts in even the most repressive of environments.

Since the Global Magnitsky Act was signed into law in 2016, sanctions have been imposed on over 100 human rights violators, corrupt actors, and associated entities in 17 countries around the world. This remarkable success is a testament to unprecedented cooperation between Congress, the Executive Branch, and civil society, and a demonstration of a shared conviction about the law’s utility.

We respectfully request $1 million in additional funding above current levels for the U.S. Department of State, apportioned according to need between the Bureau of Economic and Business Affairs (EB); Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs (INL); and Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor (DRL).

DRL and INL are responsible, respectively, for working closely with regional bureaus and U.S. embassies around the world to gather and vet information about possible human rights violations and acts of corruption. Together with EB, the three bureaus work to identify perpetrators; and, led by EB, to share their recommendations and materials with the Department of the Treasury, which then assembles sanctions designations packages on each perpetrator. Unfortunately, demand for gathering and vetting information significantly exceeds current capacity. The hiring of additional personnel focused specifically on Global Magnitsky enforcement would enable the identification and vetting of additional case files, thus ensuring more robust enforcement of the law, and the advancement of a critical U.S. policy priority.

Corruption and human rights abuses perpetuate and are born from violence and criminal activity, and exact an enormous toll socially, economically, and militarily. The United Nations estimates that the costs of corruption alone equal $2.6 trillion – roughly five percent of total global gross domestic product. Addressing corruption and human rights abuses is of paramount importance for U.S. foreign policy, and Global Magnitsky sanctions are one of the most powerful tools for doing so.

We respectfully urge you to provide this modest additional funding for Global Magnitsky enforcement in the FY20 SFOPS appropriations bill. We appreciate your consideration of this request and would be happy to meet with you in person to discuss this request in greater detail.


Freedom House
Human Rights First
American Jewish World Service
Americans for Democracy & Human Rights in Bahrain
Boat People SOS
Center for Justice and Accountability
China Change
China Human Rights Accountability Center
Church of Scientology National Affairs Office
Citizen Power Initiatives for China
Council for Global Equality
EarthRights International
Enough Project
Falun Dafa (Falun Gong) Association of Washington DC
Free Russia Foundation
Global Witness
Human Rights Campaign
Human Rights Foundation
International Christian Concern
International State Crime Initiative, Queen Mary University of London
Jacob Blaustein Institute for the Advancement of Human Rights
Lithuanian American Council
Magnitsky Act Initiative
Open Dialogue Foundation
Open Society Policy Center
Organized Crime and Corruption Reporting Project
PEN America
Physicians for Human Rights
Pretrial Rights International
Reporters Without Borders
The Freedom Initiative
Torture Abolition and Survivors Support Coalition International
Transparency International
Transparency International Mongolia
Truth Hounds NGO
Vietnam Democracy Fund (VDF)
Washington Office on Latin America (WOLA)
“WatchDog.MD” Community (Republic of Moldova)
David J. Kramer, former Assistant Secretary of State for Democracy, Human Rights and Labor


Cc: The Honorable Kay Grander, Ranking Member