EU Set to Formalise Magnitsky-style Sanctions Regime

Provisionally agreed legislation will allow EU to target individuals who commit gross human rights violations irrespective of nationality. 

EU member states provisionally approved legislation that will empower it to freeze assets and impose travel bans on individuals involved in human rights abuses from next month, reports The Guardian.

The measures were agreed by foreign policy experts from the EU’s 27 member states on Thursday (26 November), and are set to be formally signed off on Human Rights Day on 10 December.

The new human rights sanctions regime would allow the EU to target individuals involved in crimes ranging from genocide and torture to arbitrary arrests or detentions.

The move follows discussions initiated last November in which the Dutch government sought to have the EU develop its own version of the US Magnitsky Act.

The Magnitsky Act was signed by then-US President Barack Obama in 2012, to target Russian officials deemed responsible for the death of the Russian tax lawyer Sergei Magnitsky, who was hired to investigate corruption by Russian officials and later died in a Moscow prison in 2009.

The UK parliament passed similar legislation in 2018, and used its new powers in July this year to sanction 49 individuals and organisations, including 25 Russians.

Currently, the EU’s sanctioning powers are geographically targeted; it does not have the right to enforce travel bans against individuals.

The new legislation will allow the EU to target individuals who commit gross human rights violations irrespective of nationality.

Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny, who survived a Russian poisoning in August, has called upon the EU to target oligarchs close to Russian President Vladimir Putin.

“I’m definitely not the first one and unfortunately, I will not be the last,” Navalny reportedly told the European Parliament foreign affairs committee on Friday (27 November).

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