Update on Latest US government Global Magnitsky List Designations of Corrupt Actors

Updated: May 18

Eva van der Merwe


17 December 2019

This week the U.S. government took significant action using its Global Magnitsky and 7031(c) powers this week, in no small part on the basis of recommendations from a network of NGOs ILP is a member of: The Global Magnitsky Coalition.

Below is a summary of what happened, as well as a preview of things to come in 2020, by coalition member Rob Berschinski. 

What is the The Magnitsky Accountability Act?

Holding a threat of significant sanctions, the law is also meant to deter corruption and human rights violators from partaking in future violations. The Global Magnitsky Human Rights Accountability Act is an unprecedented human rights tool which enables the president of the United States to apply targeted sanctions against individuals involved in human rights violations. 

Signed into US law in 2012, in response to human rights abuses against Russian lawyer and auditor Sergei Magnitsky.  At the time of its passage, the Magnitsky Act targeted 18 Russian individuals, barring them from US entry and US bank dealings. In 2016, it was expanded to give the executive branch power to impose targeted sanctions or visa bans on individuals who have committed human rights violations anywhere in the world.

Latest Global Magnitsky & 7031(c) Designations

Over the last week, the US’ Treasury’s Office of Foreign Asset Control (OFAC) and the State Department made three separate announcements amounting to 72 new Global Magnitsky sanctions. Of the 72 announced designations, 31 relate to recommendations submitted by members of our Global Magnitsky coalition. For those providing information to OFAC, that’s a fantastic success rate and reason to be proud of our work.

Disappointingly, the release did not address several high-profile situations of concern, including senior Saudi officials responsible for the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi, Egypt, Sri Lanka, the Philippines, and several Central Asian countries, among others. 

That said, there were a number of significant GloMag sanctions worth highlighting:

  • Marian Kocner, a corrupt Slovak businessman accused of contracting the murder of a journalist investigating him (the third time the US government has used GloMag to sanction a hit on a journalist.

  • Kun Kim and Try Pheap, a senior Cambodian official and crony responsible for some of the worst kleptocracy in Cambodia as well as repression of democratic dissent (Kim and his family were sanctioned under 7031(c) as well). These included extensive derivative sanctions targeting their networks. These designations reflect hard work from a number of NGOs in this network.

  • Four senior Burmese military leaders responsible for the Rohingya genocide (that had previously been sanctioned under 7031(c)). Again, these designations reflect the work of network NGOs.

  • Six militia leaders engaged in significant human rights abuses in DRC, again reflecting NGO input.

  • A Pakistani police chief responsible for staging police “encounter killings” that have resulted in the deaths of over 400 people. This is the first time GloMag has been used for this type of crime.

  • Aivars Lembergs, a Latvian mayor with Russia ties whose corrupt dealings had been publicly exposed in the Panama Papers.  

On December 10, the State Department also released 20 new 7031(c) designations. Some of these were levied against perpetrators also targeted using GloMag, while others were unique, including sanctions against former members of the government of Paraguay and their families for corruption.

Congrats to the all our Coalition NGO colleagues that worked hard on compiling dossiers of evidence and recommendations resulting in US government designations (you know who you are)!

2019 Statistics

By way of stats, the US Government announced 97 GloMag designations in 2019, a new high. Almost exactly one third of these reflected inputs from NGO coalition members. The State Department also released 93 public 7031(c) sanctions, 29 of which are persons recommended by the Global Magnitsky Coalition (31%). Attached are GloMag and 7031(c) tables updated to reflect all current designations for these programs.

European Union

Also of note, earlier this week the European Union took a major step forward in its efforts to establish its own Global Magnitsky-like targeted sanctions program. EU officials voted to start drafting legislation, an effort that had previously been blocked by the Hungarian delegation. This breakthrough similarly reflects advocacy undertaken by a number of our Global Magnitsky Coalition member colleagues.

2020 Submissions

Finally, please note that the 2020 spring submission cycle will quickly be upon us. In January we will request statements of intent from organisations interested in working on submissions for our spring cycle (January-May). 

At that time Human Rights First will also distribute an updated case template incorporating new best practices learned over the last year, as well as language responsive to 7031(c) designations. 

If you are on NGO or journalist planning or otherwise interested in anonymously submitting a corruption case on alleged perpetrators to the US government and need legal support, please contact Eva van der Merwe at ILP.

For Human Rights violation cases please contact Human Rights First on BerschinskiR@humanrightsfirst.org




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