U.S. Congress passes groundbreaking legislation to fight the impunity of human rights abusers worldwide

US CapitolEarlier today the U.S. Congress passed a groundbreaking human rights accountability bill aimed at acting as a deterrent to human rights abusers and corrupt officials worldwide. The Global Magnitsky Human Rights Accountability Act expands the scope of the Magnitsky Act of 2012, which created targeted visa and financial sanctions on corrupt officials and human rights violators in Russia, to include the rest of the world.

A clause in the bill authorizes the U.S. President to form a list of foreign nationals whom he determines are responsible for acts of significant corruption or extrajudicial killings, torture, or other grave human rights violations committed against individuals seeking to promote human rights or to expose illegal activity carried out by government officials. These officials will face visa restrictions and asset freezes. In Spain, two lawsuits that held individual Chinese leaders accountable for their policies in Tibet were shut down following Chinese pressure on the government in Madrid.

Chinese leaders could be impacted by the passing of the bill when they attempt to transfer funds abroad leading to Chinese government officials being called to account.

Matteo Mecacci, President of the International Campaign for Tibet, said: “The passage of the Global Magnitsky Human Rights Accountability bill sends a strong message to human rights violators around the world, including China. The U.S. government can deter their abuses by acting to restrict visa entry and freezing the assets of Chinese officials complicit in human rights abuses in China, Tibet, and East Turkestan. The International Campaign for Tibet hopes the provisions of the bill will be implemented swiftly.”

The Global Magnitsky Human Rights Accountability Act (H.R.624, S. 284) was introduced in the House of Representatives by Chris Smith, Chairman of the U.S. Helsinki Commission, and Jim McGovern, Co-Chairman of the Tom Lantos Human Rights Commission, and in the Senate by U.S. Senators John McCain and Ben Cardin The bill allows the President “to designate foreign nationals whom he determines—based on credible information— are responsible for acts of significant corruption or for extrajudicial killings, torture, or other human rights violations committed against individuals seeking to promote human rights or to expose illegal activity carried out by government officials. Aliens on this list will be deemed ineligible to enter or be admitted to the United States; visas issued for persons on the list will be revoked” and allows the President “to freeze assets and prohibit U.S. property transactions of such individuals.”

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