WASHINGTON DC – European Union (EU) ministers have approved a global sanctions regime against human rights offenders, which could see African leaders involved in rights abuses suffer asset freezes and travel sanctions.
The move was adopted by foreign ministers of all 28 EU countries during a meeting held in Brussels on Monday, December 9, 2019. EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs Josep Borrell said the sanctions will be similar to those being implemented by the US under the Magnitsky Act.
“We have agreed to launch the preparatory work for a global sanctions regime to address serious human rights violations, which will be the European Union equivalent of the so-called Magnitsky Act of the United States,” Mr Borrell said on Monday.
In 2012, then US President Barack Obama signed the U.S Magnitsky Act into law, with the aim of targeting the Russian officials deemed responsible for the death of Russian tax lawyer Sergei Magnitsky. Since then, the law has been used to sanction individuals accused of human rights abuses worldwide.
“There was a strong consensus … to launch the preparatory work, and the European External Action Service [the EU’s diplomatic body] will prepare the documentation for this in order to prepare the equivalent of this act,” Mr Borrell said.
“This will be a tangible step reaffirming the European Union’s global lead on human rights,” he added.
Under the framework, EU the identify human rights abusers and punish them with the freeze their assets in Europe and ban them from travelling to the bloc.
EU officials said the new framework could be ready to be presented for ministers’ final approval as soon as next year.
So far, several African leaders, including those from Uganda, have been banned from travelling to the US over human rights violations. Key among them is former IGP Gen Kale Kayihura.