September 09, 2020

Menendez, Cardin Call on Treasury Department to Announce New Magnitsky Act Designations

WASHINGTON – Senator Bob Menendez (D-N.J.), Ranking Member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, and Senator Ben Cardin (D-Md.), author of the Sergei Magnitsky Rule of Law Accountability Act, today sent a letter to Secretary of the Treasury Steven Mnuchin calling on the Trump administration to immediately release a robust and credible set of Magnitsky Act designations for 2019. Citing the longstanding expectation that Treasury announce each year’s Magnitsky Act designations by December, the Senators wrote that any further delay in the 2019 round of designations is unacceptable.  

“This program is one of the most effective tools the United States has to hold human rights abusers in Russia to account,” wrote the Senators. “There continue to be a host of individuals for whom both the Sergei Magnitsky prong and Gross Violations of Human Rights prong of this Act would apply.”

The Sergei Magnitsky Rule of Law Accountability Act of 2012 requires the President to designate individuals who were involved in the detention, abuse, or death of Russian whistleblower Sergei Magnitsky or in the criminal conspiracy Magnitsky uncovered. It also requires the President to designate individuals responsible for gross violations of human rights against people seeking to promote human rights in Russia or to expose illegal activity by Russian Federation officials. Since the law’s passage Treasury has issued a new round of designations every year, but has yet to do so for 2019. 

A copy of the letter can be found HERE and below:

Dear Secretary Mnuchin, 

We are writing to express serious concern that the new designations required by the Russia Magnitsky sanctions program are long overdue.  Since the 2012 passage of the Russia Magnitsky Act [Pub. L. 112-208], our expectation has been that OFAC announces annual designations by the close of each calendar year; however, it is September 9th and we still do not have the 2019 round of Russia Magnitsky designations from the Administration.  To this effect, we urge the release of a robust and credible list of designations immediately.

This program is one of the most effective tools the United States has to hold human rights abusers in Russia to account.  We believe the Treasury Department fully understands the importance of designation mechanisms.  This year alone, dozens of individuals associated with Iran, China, and Venezuela have been designated by OFAC, but only 17 Russia-related designations have been issued.  It is critical that the Treasury Department dedicate the necessary resources to make the designations required by the Russia Magnitsky Act of 2012.  

During the release of the 2018 round of designations, Under Secretary Mandelker said the department would continue to “impose costs on those involved in the detention, abuse, and death of Sergei Magnitsky, and is committed to addressing boarder human rights violations across Russia.”  There continue to be a host of individuals for whom both the Sergei Magnitsky prong and Gross Violations of Human Rights prong of this Act would apply. 

Any further delay of the 2019 round of designations is unacceptable under the law and hinders the United States’ ability to hold to account those who have committed atrocious acts within Russia.  Know that we stand ready to support the Treasury Department in fulfilling this requirement.  We look forward to a release of a robust and credible set of designations without further delay.

Sincerely, 

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