European Union (EU) officials on December 7, 2020, agreed to adopt a framework styled after the “Magnitsky Act” to “target individuals, entities and bodies … responsible for, involved in, or associated with serious human rights violations and abuses worldwide.”
This is the first time that the EU has set up such a sanction system to prioritise the protection of human rights in its foreign policies.
“Today’s decision emphasizes that the promotion and protection of human rights remain a cornerstone and priority of EU external action and reflects the EU’s determination to address serious human rights violations and abuses,” the EU Council said in a statement.
The EU’s new global human rights protection framework was styled after “The Global Magnitsky Human Rights Accountability Act” first passed by the U.S. Congress in 2016. The U.S. “Global Magnitsky Act” authorizes the U.S. government to sanction human rights violators from around the world, including freezing their assets in the U.S. and barring their entries into the country.
Mike Pompeo, the U.S. Secretary of State, applauded the EU’s agreement on December 7. He said in a statement: “The United States welcomes the European Union’s adoption of its global human rights sanctions framework. Today, on the occasion of International Human Rights Day, we note that this groundbreaking accomplishment will further protect human rights worldwide. The EU’s new measures give its member states a powerful tool to promote accountability for human rights abuse on a global scale.”
He also encouraged “the EU to adopt its first designations as soon as possible.”
According to the EU statement: “The framework for targeted restrictive measures applies to acts such as genocide, crimes against humanity and other serious human rights violations or abuses (e.g. torture, slavery, extrajudicial killings, arbitrary arrests or detentions). Other human rights violations or abuses can also fall under the scope of the sanctions regime where those violations or abuses are widespread, systematic or are otherwise of serious concern as regards the objectives of the common foreign and security policy set out in the Treaty (Article 21 TEU).
“Such restrictive measures will provide for a travel ban applying to individuals, and the freezing of funds applying to both individuals and entities. In addition, persons and entities in the EU will be forbidden from making funds available to those listed, either directly or indirectly.
“It will be for the Council, acting upon a proposal from a member state or from the High Representative of the EU for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, to establish, review and amend the sanctions list.”
The new framework is expected to become effective on Human Rights Day, December 10. The first list of perpetrators will be added to the EU sanctions list in the first quarter of 2021.
In recent days, Falun Gong practitioners in 29 countries have submitted a new list of perpetrators who’ve been involved in the persecution of Falun Gong to their own respective governments. These practitioners have demanded that their governments bar the entry of the perpetrators and their immediate family members and freeze their assets.
The 29 countries include: Australia, Canada, New Zealand, the United Kingdom and the United States of the Five Eyes Alliance; another 18 EU countries, including Germany, France, Italy, Spain, the Netherlands, Poland, Belgium, Sweden, Austria, Ireland, Denmark, Finland, the Czech Republic, Romania, Portugal, Hungary, Slovakia, and Slovenia; as well as six other countries: Japan, South Korea, Switzerland, Norway, Liechtenstein, and Mexico.
Similar to the lists of perpetrators submitted before, the new list consists of officials from the CCP’s central government, as well as officials at all local levels, including secretaries of Political and Legal Affairs Committees, directors of 610 Offices, local government officials, directors of Public Security Bureaus and Police Departments, officers of Domestic Security Bureaus, court presidents and judges, as well as directors of prisons and forced labor camps.
These Falun Gong practitioners said that they will continue to collect and compile lists of perpetrators and their crimes in the persecution. Such information will be submitted to Minghui.org and the perpetrator’s list on Minghui will be updated regularly. So far, the database has listed a total of 105,580 perpetrators. Their names will eventually appear on the sanction lists by democratic countries.
About the Magnitsky Act
The Magnitsky Act was named after Sergei Magnitsky, a Russian auditor who was arrested and imprisoned for uncovering the theft of nearly $230 million from the Russian government through fraudulent tax refunds. He died on November 16, 2009, in a Moscow prison due to inhumane treatment. His death was widely reported in Russia. Although the Russian officials who were involved in his case weren’t subjected to prosecution, his death eventually triggered the establishment of a global framework to protect human rights.
At least six countries have passed similar Sergei Magnitsky acts to hold human rights violators accountable. The Australian Parliament is expected to pass a similar law in the near future.
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