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  • Writer's pictureInternational Lawyers Project

First Global Magnitsky Sanctions Submission Request against Republic of the Congo Kleptocrats

ILP’s partner, Collectif Sassoufit - a Congolese NGO which tackles kleptocracy and corruption in the Republic of the Congo - has formally requested UK and US anti-corruption sanctions against corrupt public officials in the Republic of the Congo. The targets of this submission are responsible for billions of dollars of embezzlement, fraud, environmental pollution, war crimes, torture and repression against citizens.

The US was the first to implement an anti-corruption sanctions regime in 2016, with the Global Magnitsky Act. The U.K. implemented its Global Anti-Corruption Sanctions Regime in April 2021. The ILP has been providing legal support to civil society - particularly in the Global South - to help them understand and utilise the anti-corruption impact of this new tool.

NGOs from anywhere in the world can submit information on corrupt individuals to the UK and USA. If there is sufficient evidence to suggest corruption, those targets will be designated, meaning all of their assets in the UK and its overseas territories, or in the USA will be frozen, and they will be banned from entering the country that designated them.

Part of the ILP’s work includes sourcing pro bono sanction lawyers to work as volunteers to help NGOs draft the strongest possible submissions, making sure the evidence is laid out clearly for UK and USA government officials. The ILP’s main goal is to ensure that submissions local NGOs around the world send to UK or US authorities have the best chance of leading to a designation.

A Congolese man holds a sign that reads “We were sleeping. They woke us up, didn’t they! Sassoufit”

Collectif Sassoufit published the following press release regarding the sanctions submission:

​​Since 2007 and the first complaint about President Denis Sassou Nguesso and his entourage’s ill-gotten gains in France, the Congoleses have been waiting for justice to pass. To date, still no trial, worse, no precautionary measures have been taken to such an extent that in 15 years, abuses and misappropriations have worsened: Real-estate purchases and embezzled money laundering to Canada, the United States, the emirates, etc.

By submitting on October 28th, 2022, the first Congo Brazzaville case of Magnitsky sanctions against Congolese officials, the Collectif Sassoufit aims to obtain the precautionary measures that the traditional courts have not brought to the Congolese people. We choose to submit a Global Magnitsky sanction because it allows administrative measures of seizure, freezing of assets and a ban on travel that will considerably reduce the capacity for harm of the individuals targeted and their listed entourages. Thanks to our counsel in consultation with a partner NGO, Sassoufit is furthering this struggle for justice.

The vast literature compiled for the submission speaks for itself: in the Republic of Congo state capture is total. Wealth-grabbing fuels human rights abuses. The Republic of the Congo can be deemed a complete Kleptocracy. It stands at the intersection of transnational criminal networks working for the advent of an undemocratic international system.

And lastly, as described in the submission, the Republic of the Congo and its people are unable to deal with the crimes of these individuals themselves. Its government is not democratically ruled, the judiciary is not independent, and the people are themselves threatened with death and torture if they dare challenge those in power. The use of the Global Magnitsky sanctions authority by the US Treasury and State Department is one of the few tools available in the world to address these crimes, and it represents the world’s most powerful tool for shining light on evils that would otherwise live in the dark.

See the original press release here.


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