EU Considers Magnitsky Act to Sanction Human Rights Abusers

European Union President Ursula Von der Leyen recently stated in her State of the Union speech that she intends to create a Magnitsky Act which would allow adoption by all members states. Unlike Canada and the United States, the EU currently has no formal structure to impose sanctions on people suspected of human rights abuses. The EU’s three Baltic members, Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania, have already each adopted their own Magnitsky Acts.

The Magnitsky Act is named for Sergei Magnitsky, an auditor and lawyer working for London-based investment fund Hermitage who died in 2009 following alleged mistreatment in prison after being arrested by Russian government for exposing that millions of dollars in tax payments paid by Hermitage had been diverted to Russian officials.

The 2012 Magnitsky Act initially barred 18 Russian officials thought to be associated with Magnitsky’s mistreatment and death from entering the U.S. or engaging in its banking system and froze their assets inside the country.

In 2016, the US Congress expanded the Act’s provisions into the Global Magnitsky Act which allows for sanctions against human rights abusers in all parts of the world. Since then, officials from China, the Dominican Republic, Gambia, and Turkey have been sanctioned.

Those who have committed crimes against humanity, genocide, and torture will be subject to EU sanctions under the new adoption. A leaked document reported by The Shift shows that those involved in slavery, disappearances, and extrajudicial killings will be the first to face EU asset freezing and visa bans.

According to the EUobserver, those individuals engaged in human-trafficking, sexual violence, and the suppression of freedom of peaceful assembly, expression, or religion will also be targeted. The sanctions are meant to squash impunity for abusive regimes around the globe. “By targeting individuals and entities, instead of foreign administrations, they are meant to end exemption even for the servants of powerful and strategically important states.”

DAFOH hopes these sanctions will include those Chinese individuals, doctors, and government officials who have participated at any level in the persecution of Falun Gong and the forced live organ harvesting from Chinese prisoners of conscience.