BREAKING: U.S. Announces First Sanctions Under Global Magnitsky Act, Naming Officials in South Sudan, Congo, and Other Countries
Enough Project lauds first critical step toward justice and accountability for corrupt officials who target human rights defenders, journalists
December 21, 2017 (Washington, DC) – Today, the United States announced its first set of sanctions under the Global Magnitsky Act. Individuals named include Benjamin Bol Mel of South Sudan, and Dan Gertler related to activities in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).
The Enough Project actively supported the passage of Global Magnitsky, and along with other concerned organizations has advocated for implementation of the law since it was adopted. Experts at Enough and its investigative initiative The Sentry are available for further comment, analysis, and interviews.
John Prendergast, Founding Director at the Enough Project, said: “Many of those responsible for war and mass atrocities in East and Central Africa – and around the world – have shown the ability to move money through the international financial system and park their assets overseas with ease. The use of the Magnitsky Act to impose sanctions on those responsible for corruption and attacks against human rights defenders shows that war profiteers can no longer operate with complete impunity.”
Brad Brooks-Rubin, Policy Director at The Sentry, said: “The United States has used financial pressures for decades against transnational threats such as nuclear proliferation and terrorism. With these designations, the United States now recognizes public corruption and targeting of human rights defenders in this same light. Over time, we look forward to robust use of these sanctions to target these threats wherever they occur.”
Sasha Lezhnev, Deputy Director of Policy at the Enough Project, said: “U.S. sanctions against tycoon Dan Gertler and 19 of his companies are a major shot across the bow to DRC President Kabila that there will be international consequences for corruption. The U.S. and European Union should follow this up with anti-money laundering steps until the Congolese government commits to a credible democratic transition and transfer of power.”
Signed into law in December 2016, the Global Magnitsky Human Rights Accountability Act empowers the U.S. government with the authority to place sanctions on corrupt public officials across the world that misappropriate state assets as well as anyone who attacks journalists and human rights defenders.
Ian Schwab, Director of Advocacy and Impact Strategy at the Enough Project, said: “Members of both parties in both chambers of Congress sent a clear message to kleptocrats around the world when they passed the Global Magnitsky Act. This law brings together civil society organizations and the NGO community with congressional leaders and the executive branch to identify and sanction perpetrators of public corruption and human rights abuses such as the targeting of independent media and human rights defenders exposing illegal activity. Today’s announcement marks the implementation of a law that should scare corrupt officials around the globe.”
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 whistle blowers. The law 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 law 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.
Key relevant reports and resources by the Enough Project:
- Report: “Bankrupting Kleptocracy: Financial tools to counter atrocities in Africa’s deadliest war zones”
- Op-ed in The Hill: “Global Magnitsky’s Power to Protect,” by Holly Dranginis
About THE ENOUGH PROJECT – an anti-atrocity policy group
The Enough Project supports peace and an end to mass atrocities in Africa’s deadliest conflict zones. Together with its investigative initiative The Sentry, Enough counters armed groups, violent kleptocratic regimes, and their commercial partners that are sustained and enriched by corruption, criminal activity, and the trafficking of natural resources. By helping to create consequences for the major perpetrators and facilitators of atrocities and corruption, Enough seeks to build leverage in support of peace and good governance. Enough conducts research in conflict zones, engages governments and the private sector on potential policy solutions, and mobilizes public campaigns focused on peace, human rights, and breaking the links between war and illicit profit. Learn more – and join us – at www.EnoughProject.org.