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  • Writer's pictureInternational Lawyers Project

Magnitsky Sanctions: Tackling foreign corrupt practices and human rights abuses through sanctions

Updated: Nov 24, 2023

The International Lawyers Project, in partnership with the largest federation of national anti-corruption non-government organisations in the world – Transparency International (TI), hosted virtual trainings on sanctions for African civil society groups in the English and French languages on the 22nd and the 24th of May 2023.

TI’s 2022 Corruption Perceptions Index revealed that the African region retained its position as the most corrupt region in the world. Reports suggest that corruption contributes to the impoverishment and underdevelopment of many African states and remains as a major barrier to economic growth. In addressing these issues, sanctions regimes offer parallel enforcement tools to combat corruption and hold corrupt actors individually accountable.

Following the enactment of the United States Global Magnitsky Act in 2016, different jurisdictions followed suit with the introduction of their own regimes, including the United Kingdom (UK), Canada, and Australia. As of November 2022, almost a thousand Magnitsky-style sanctions were implemented, with more than 300 corruption-related designations.

Primarily a foreign policy tool, the consistent adoption of Magnitsky-style sanctions by various regimes supports the impact of sanctions in the global fight against corruption, particularly in leveraging the cross-border effects of asset freezes and travel bans.

ILP partnered with Ashurst law firm to provide this training. Armed with an extensive working knowledge on sanctions, Olivier Dorgans, Partner at the Ashurst’s Paris Office, delivered both the English and French training sessions covering the following topics:

  • Introduction to Magnitsky sanctions and country approaches to accountability in anti-corruption and human rights violations including presentation of case studies, challenges, and impact;

  • Discussion on the practicalities involved in making and submitting a request for individuals or entities to be designated for sanctions including the types of corruption cases commonly invoked to justify designations; and,

  • Dialogue on the civil society organisations’ use of Magnitsky-style sanctions to address foreign corruption, with in-depth discussion of the criteria for designation as well as relevant evidentiary thresholds.

The two-hour sessions culminated with the Q&A, with a representative from the UK Foreign Commonwealth and Development Office likewise providing relevant insights on the UK government’s priorities in applying sanctions designations.

The participants commended the interactive delivery of the trainings, as well as the valuable sharing of practical insights on sanctions submissions. Feedback and comments likewise lauded the presenter for being clear, precise, and well versed on the training topics. Having found the sessions extremely beneficial, the participants expressed their desire to participate in similar trainings in the future.


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