US Senators call on Admin to utilize new legislation to sanction human rights violators

Sens. Cardin (L) and McCain (R)

Washington, DC – Today, Senator Ben Cardin (D-MD) and Senator John McCain (R-AZ) issued a press statement requesting that President Trump direct his Administration to fully utilize the Global Magnitsky Human Rights and Accountability Act. This new legislation allows for the Administration to enact sanctions against individuals or entities found to be committing gross human rights violations or significant acts of corruption. Americans for Democracy & Human Rights in Bahrain (ADHRB) echoes Sen. Cardin and Sen. McCain’s call for the Trump Administration to utilize this new legislation and hold accountable human rights abusers across the globe, including violators within US allied governments in the Gulf Cooperation Council.

The Global Magnitsky Human Rights and Accountability Act became law upon the passage of the Fiscal Year 2017 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) in December 2016, approved with bipartisan Congressional support. The legislation authorizes the president to impose sanctions against foreign individuals or entities with credible evidence showing they have been responsible for carrying out gross violations of human rights, including extrajudicial killings and torture, or been involved in cases of significant corruption. The president may impose visa bans and freeze the assets of those individuals or entities designated under the legislation.

Sens. Cardin and McCain are urging President Trump to seriously investigate 13 cases of individuals and entities allegedly involved in gross violations of human rights and seven cases of individuals and entities allegedly involved in acts of significant corruption. The 20 cases represent geographically diverse regions from across the globe. Congress has vetted the 20 cases sent to the president and considers them “some of the most egregious human rights and corruption cases in the world for review.” The President should now review and authorize his Administration to investigate the cases.

Congress views this legislation as a way to hold violators from around the world accountable for their offenses. “We can ensure that gross violators of human rights… do not escape the consequences of their actions,” said Sen. Cardin in the press statement. Sen. McCain echoed the sentiment, recognizing the opportunity the Administration has in stopping individuals or entities from acting with impunity: “It’s critical the administration use the tools at its disposal to fully investigate these cases and ensure human rights offenders and corrupt officials from around the world are brought to justice.”

“In countries like Bahrain and Saudi Arabia, high level government officials and even members of ruling families have been complicit in widespread and systematic abuses of human rights for decades,” said ADHRB Executive Director Husain Abdulla. “It is crucial that the Trump Administration utilize the tools provided in the Global Magnitsky Act to hold any gross human rights violators accountable—even when they are US allies. Without keeping to our values of human rights and dignity for all, US moral leadership and credibility around the world will appear to be hollow platitudes, or worse, outright hypocrisy.”

ADHRB fully supports the statements made by Sens. Cardin and McCain, and urges President Trump to swiftly review the cases submitted and authorize his Administration to pursue violators to the fullest extent of the law. Further, ADHRB underscores the importance for impartial, apolitical investigations into individuals and entities around the world to ensure that all violators are held accountable.