July 9, 2020 – The Sentry, Human Right First, and Freedom House joined with twenty-one other non-governmental organizations today in urging the United States government to utilize the Global Magnitsky sanctions program to counter efforts by authoritarian regimes and malign actors to exploit and profit from 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.
Said Human Rights First’s Senior Vice President Rob Berschinski, “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 is a powerful, innovative foreign policy tool to hold accountable human rights abusers and corrupt government officials,” said Michael Abramowitz, president of Freedom House. “We urge the United States to leverage this existing sanctions authority to counter those that would use the pandemic as an opportunity to exploit, oppress, and profit.”
The Sentry’s Director of Regional Policy and Advocacy Ian Schwab said, “The Global Magnitsky sanctions program can effectively deter and punish COVID-related corruption if implemented with clear public messaging and technical guidance. The United States has a proven tool to sanction corrupt public officials and should make clear that it’s ready to act swiftly against those who steal lifesaving resources amidst this pandemic.”
Read the letter: https://eno.ug/2O8FwEI