Today, the United States Congress passed historic legislation empowering the U.S. government with the authority to place sanctions on corrupt public officials across the world who misappropriate state assets as well as anyone who attacks journalists and human rights defenders.
The National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) for Fiscal Year 2017 passed in the Senate today, following passage in the House of Representatives last Friday. The NDAA includes a provision on human rights sanctions known as the “Global Magnitsky Human Rights Accountability Act.” Once signed into law, Global Magnitsky gives the President standing authority to impose sanctions on non-U.S. citizens guilty of corruption or gross human rights violations perpetrated against whistleblowers. Global Magnitsky also enhances congressional involvement in the designation of individuals to be investigated for human rights violations, and helps to ensure that U.S. financial institutions are not complicit in supporting those profiting off of atrocities.
The Global Magnitsky Act brings a unique focus to corruption and the illicit gain acquired through acts of corruption and especially with regard to those in government positions, those who are complicit in corrupt acts, and those who facilitate or transfer the proceeds of corruption to foreign jurisdictions.
The NDAA now heads to President Obama’s desk to be signed into law.
Ian Schwab, Director of Advocacy and Impact Strategy at the Enough Project, said: “Passage of the Global Magnitsky Act demonstrates what is possible when members of both parties working together in the House and Senate identify a problem and put forward a constructive solution. Congress should use this legislation and the tools it provides to ensure that there are consequences for those leaders stealing from their own people and crushing dissent.”
J.R. Mailey, Senior Policy Analyst for Illicit Finance and Conflict at the Enough Project, said: “Journalists and civil society activists around the world are on the front lines of the fight against corruption, oppression, and human rights violations. This puts many courageous reporters and activists directly in harm's way, as many who seek to expose corruption or government abuses are subject to harassment, intimidation and violence. Such abuse continues, in part, because the officials responsible for attacks on civil society and the press believe they will suffer no consequences. The passage of the Global Magnitsky Act will help change the equation.”
Rachel Finn, Advocacy Manager at the Enough Project, said: “The Global Magnitsky Act is a groundbreaking achievement in the realm of atrocity prevention. Not only does it make explicit the critical nexus between corruption and human rights abuses around the globe, but this bipartisan initiative also establishes a foundational framework through which real action can be taken against perpetrators and enablers of some of the worst crimes known to humanity. We are grateful to the ongoing work of Senators Cardin (D-MD) and McCain (R-AZ), Representatives Smith (R-NJ) and McGovern (D-MA), and each chamber's Armed Services and Foreign Relations Committees for their tireless efforts ensuring the U.S. Government has the tools necessary to focus on human rights and peace internationally.”