Foreign affairs ministers adopt European Magnitsky Act

It will be for the Council, acting upon a proposal from a EU country or from the High Representative, to establish, review and amend the sanctions list

Photo: EU Josep Borrell.

At their Council meeting on Monday, EU foreign affairs ministers adopted a decision and a regulation establishing a global human rights sanctions regime, an European version of the US Magnitsky Act. For the first time, the EU is equipping itself with a framework that will allow it to target individuals, entities and bodies responsible for, involved in or associated with serious human rights violations and abuses worldwide, no matter where they occurred. It includes state and non-state actors.

Upon arrival to the meeting, High Representative/Vice-President Josep Borrell highlighted that the Council will approve the EU Global framework for Human Rights Sanctions. “Just one year after I started launching this procedure, it took one year, but finally it is here. Finally, we got something that will help us face human rights abuses all over the world and not country by country. I think it is an important step”, he commented noting that he will say more after the meeting.

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.

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).

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 decision emphasises 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 Foreign Affairs Council press office underlined.



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