Foundation calls for Global Magnitsky sanctions against pandemic-related corruption

The Jackson Foundation joined our partner Human Rights First, along with The Sentry, Freedom House, and twenty other NGOs, to urge the U.S. government to use the Global Magnitsky sanctions program to confront exploitation of the COVID-19 pandemic. The letter details immediate actions the Departments of State and Treasury can take to address corruption and ensure lifesaving aid reaches its intended beneficiaries.

The Global Magnitsky Act is a powerful sanctions tool against human rights abuse and corruption worldwide. The law targets individuals who have committed human rights violations or significant corruption, barring them from obtaining U.S. visas or using the U.S. banking system.

Human Rights First’s Senior Vice President Rob Berschinski said, “COVID-19 has forced governments and other donors to pour unprecedented sums of money into response efforts. The unfortunate corollary of this necessary response is an unparalleled opportunity for corrupt actors to enrich themselves at the public’s expense. In the Global Magnitsky Act, the U.S. government has a ready-made tool able to hold corrupt officials and their enablers to account. In the midst of this crisis, the government needs to show that it’s serious about using the Global Magnitsky Act to the fullest possible extent.”

The Global Magnitsky Act builds on the Jackson-Vanik Amendment, part of Senator Jackson’s legacy, which tied national economic sanctions to human rights abuses. The Global Magnitsky Act has also become a model for other countries to use sanctions to hold human rights abusers personally accountable. On July 6, the government of the United Kingdom announced its first-ever batch of 49 sanctions designations under its new “Global Magnitsky-like” sanctions program, which targeted human rights abusers in Russia, Saudi Arabia, North Korea, and Myanmar. For over a year, Jackson partner Human Rights First has advised the UK government on its effort.

We believe that encouraging the U.S. and other governments to utilize an effective, available sanctions tool and creating real consequences for corrupt actors exploiting the pandemic will have impact.  We commend our partner, Human Rights First, as well as The Sentry and Freedom House, for leading this meaningful effort.

Read the letter:

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