December 08, 2016

Cardin, McCain Hail Watershed Moment in Global Human Rights Accountability, Fight Against Corruption

WASHINGTON – Senate and House passage of the FY 2017 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) is a watershed moment in global human rights accountability and the fight against corruption. The Global Magnitsky Human Rights Accountability Act, part of the NDAA, now heads to President Obama for signature into law.

Championed by U.S. Senators Ben Cardin (D-Md.), Ranking Member of the Foreign Relations Committee, and John McCain (R-Ariz.), Chairman of the Armed Services Committee, the bill gives the President of the United States the authority to deny human rights abusers and corrupt officials entry into the United States and access to our financial institutions. The bipartisan legislation builds on the Russia-specific Sergei Magnitsky Rule of Law Accountability Act of 2013 to apply sanctions globally, and makes significant acts of corruption sanctionable offenses.  

“Addressing human rights violations and corruption around the globe remains one of the most challenging aspects of U.S. foreign policy,” said Senator Cardin. “With today’s passage of the Global Magnitsky Human Rights Accountability Act, the United States has added a critical tool to our diplomatic toolbox, making clear that gross violators of human rights and those who engage in serious acts of corruption cannot escape the consequences of their actions even when their home country fails to act. Visiting the United States and using our financial institutions are privileges that should not be extended to the worst actors in the international system. But perhaps most importantly, passage of this legislation is a reminder to all those around the world who have the courage to stand up against corruption and human rights abuses, that the United States stands with them in solidarity.”

“Last month marked the seventh anniversary of the murder of Sergei Magnitsky at the hands of Vladimir Putin’s Russia. Sergei’s torture and murder is an example of a problem that is unfortunately all too common and widespread in Russia and many parts of the world today: the flagrant violations of the rule of law and basic human rights,” said Senator McCain. “The Global Magnitsky Human Rights and Accountability Act, which is on its way to becoming law, will provide new tools to punish perpetrators of corruption and human rights abuses and will send a clear message that if you violate the human rights and civil liberties of others, the United States will hold you accountable. In passing this legislation, we honor the life and memory of Sergei and affirm our commitment to all those fighting for freedom around the world.”

Congressional passage of Global Magnitsky comes on the eve of two related days important to the international community: December 9th is International Anti-Corruption Day and December 10th is Human Rights Day.

Below is a summary of the bill:

The Global Magnitsky Human Rights Accountability Act

  • Authorizes the President to impose sanctions on any foreign individual the President determines is responsible for significant acts of corruption, extrajudicial killings, torture, or other gross violations of internationally recognized human rights committed against individuals seeking to promote human rights or to expose illegal activity carried out by government officials.  Sanctions on these individuals include:
    • Prohibiting or revoking U.S. entry visas or other entry documentation; and
    • Freezing and prohibiting U.S. property transactions of an individual if such property and property interests are in the United States, come within the United States, or are in or come within the control of a U.S. person or entity.
  • In determining whether credible evidence exists to apply sanctions, the President must consider requests made jointly by the Chairperson and Ranking Member of certain Congressional committees.
  • Requires the President to report annually to Congress regarding actions taken pursuant to the bill.

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