FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
January 2, 2018
State Department Announces the First Global Magnitsky Sanctions
Chairman Mark states that “the United States should continue to be a leader in the fight against human rights abusers”
WASHINGTON, D.C. – The U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) praised the U.S. government for taking action pursuant to the Global Magnitsky Human Rights Accountability Act. “Global Magnitsky sanctions against individuals who have committed gross human rights abuses are an important new tool in the U.S. government’s human rights toolbox,” said USCIRF’s Chairman Daniel Mark. “USCIRF congratulates the White House, the State Department, and the Treasury Department for working together to implement this first set of sanctions. Other countries are passing similar acts, and the United States should continue to be a leader in the fight against human rights abusers.”
USCIRF has long called for targeted sanctions against violators of religious freedom. In its 2017 Annual Report, USCIRF recommended that the Administration “use targeted tools against specific officials, agencies, and military units identified as having participated in or being responsible for human rights abuses, including particularly severe violations of religious freedom.” Tools that could be used include the Global Magnitsky Act, the Treasury Department’s “specially designated nationals” (SDN) list, and other provisions under the International Religious Freedom Act (IRFA).
Specific to Burma, USCIRF praises the inclusion of General Maung Maung Soe in the list of sanctioned individuals. As the former head of the Burmese Army’s Western Command, he oversaw military operations in Rakhine State and myriad human rights abuses that resulted in more than 700,000 Rohingya Muslims fleeing the country since 2016.
USCIRF Vice Chairwoman Kristina Arriaga traveled in November to Burma with Commissioner Tenzin Dorjee. “I applaud the Secretary of State for calling the situation in Rakhine State an ‘ethnic cleansing’,” stated Arriaga. “The systematic, methodical, and comprehensive campaign against the Rohingya, in particular, calls for action by the United States and the international community. Sanctioning General Maung Maung Soe for his responsibility as commander is well deserved.”
The U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom is an independent, bipartisan U.S. federal government commission, the first of its kind in the world. USCIRF reviews the facts and circumstances of religious freedom violations abroad and makes policy recommendations to the President, the Secretary of State, and Congress. USCIRF Commissioners are appointed by the President and the Congressional leadership of both political parties. To interview a Commissioner, please contact USCIRF at Media@USCIRF.gov or John D. Lawrence, Director of Communications (JLawrence@USCIRF.gov/ +1-202-786-0611).