Press release

United States: Organizations Urge Congress to Support Global Magnitsky Enforcement

Freedom House joins 50 leading human rights organizations in support of congressional funding for implementation of Global Magnitsky sanctions.

In an effort led by Freedom House, letters in support of congressional funding for implementation of Global Magnitsky sanctions were signed by 50 organizations and individuals, and sent to the House and Senate Appropriations Committees. As we seek support for this critical anticorruption tool, Freedom House issued the following statement:

“The Global Magnitsky Act is one of the most innovative and powerful US foreign policy tools in recent memory,” said Annie Boyajian, director of advocacy at Freedom House. “It brings a measure of accountability to corrupt foreign officials and human rights abusers, whose crimes have global impact. We urge Congress to continue their strong bipartisan support for this law by continuing to provide funding for the agencies tasked with vetting potential Global Magnitsky cases. The number of potential cases exceeds current capacity, and the hiring of additional personnel to vet a greater number of cases will ensure that more bad actors face consequences, and will advance a critical US policy priority.”

Background:

The Global Magnitsky Human Rights Accountability Act (PL 114-328, Subtitle F) allows the president to block US visas and freeze US-based assets of foreign individuals and entities who engage in or support those engaged in human rights abuses or acts of corruption.

Since the Global Magnitsky Act was signed into law in 2016, sanctions have been imposed on 199 human rights violators, corrupt actors, and associated entities in 25 countries around the world, including a notorious businessman who stole billions from the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), senior Burmese military officials responsible for atrocities against Burma’s ethnic minorities, one of the biggest arms dealers in the Balkans, and members of the hit squad dispatched by the government of Saudi Arabia to murder journalist Jamal Khashoggi. This remarkable success is a testament to unprecedented cooperation between Congress, the Executive Branch, and civil society.

The United Nations estimates the costs of corruption alone equal $2.6 trillion—roughly five percent of total global gross domestic product. The letters sent by Freedom House and other nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) to the House and Senate Appropriations Committees request $1 million for enforcement at the Department of Justice; a continued funding level of $3 million for enforcement at the Department of the Treasury; and a $500,000 increase for the Department of State to ensure that all three bureaus tasked with enforcement receive funding.

Download the letters here: