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US Government Must Use Global Magnitsky Sanctions to Address Covid-19-Related Corruption  

Read the joint letter

REDRESS and 23 other organisations have sent a letter to US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin urging them to use the Global Magnitsky sanctions to target gross corruption by authoritarian governments and other actors in the context of Covid-19.  

Global disruption caused by the pandemic has elevated corruption risks, as traditional oversight has become more challenging and emergency responses have created new opportunities for the corrupt misappropriation of pandemic-related resources.   

The need to move funds and medical and humanitarian supplies quickly around the world creates vulnerabilities easily exploited by corrupt actors. This leads to unnecessary suffering and loss of lives and widening inequality,” said Rupert Skilbeck, Director of REDRESS 

The letter states: “The Global Magnitsky sanctions program, as a dual human rights and anti-corruption accountability tool focused on targeted individual sanctions, is particularly well suited to the task of counteracting efforts by authoritarian regimes and malign actors to use this crisis as an opportunity to curb fundamental freedoms, erode the rule of law, and steal public resources. 

In the US, Global Magnitsky sanctions are used to target individual perpetrators of gross violations of human rights as well as those responsible for significant corruption. The UK introduced its own human rights sanctions regime this week, empowering the government to impose targeted sanctions on individuals and associated entities who have committed serious human rights abuses, including torture and violations of the right to life 

The UK regime does not include corruption as a basis for these sanctions. However, Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab has confirmed the UK government’s commitment to include corruption in the regime, stating that work on this is under wayRaab recognisedthat in the case of Sergei Magnitsky“we have one of the most egregious corruption cases, coupled with an appalling human rights abuse. 

In conjunction with the application of sanctions, the letter calls for a robust public messaging campaign signalling that the corrupt misappropriation of pandemic-related resources will be prioritised byinvestigators and law enforcement, as well as by financial institutions.  

The letter concludes: “At this moment of turmoil, with new initiatives rapidly developing, we must ensure that we are using the tools and best practices that have already been developed. 

 For more information or to request an interview, please contact: Eva Sanchis, REDRESS Communications Director at [email protected] or +44 (0) 7857 110076. 

Photo credit: Featous, CC BY-SA 4.0.