African Dictators Risk U.S. Sanctions After Congress Passes New Law

Fredrick Ngugi December 09, 2016
Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe making a public address. This Is Africa.

African dictators now risk getting economic sanctions from the United States, following the passing of a new law on human rights accountability by Congress.

The National Defense Authorization Act for fiscal year 2017, which was passed by the U.S. Senate Thursday, includes a provision on human rights sanctions known as the “Global Magnitsky Human Rights Accountability Act.”

It empowers the U.S. government to issue sanctions against corrupt public officials across the world who misappropriate state assets or attack journalists and human rights defenders.

In a statement sent to Face2Face Africa, the Enough Project, an atrocity prevention policy group, says the new legislation brings a unique focus to corruption and the illicit gain acquired through acts of corruption, particularly those in government positions who are complicit in corrupt acts and facilitate or transfer the proceeds of corruption to foreign jurisdictions.

“Once signed into law, Global Magnitsky gives the President standing authority to impose sanctions on non-U.S. citizens guilty of corruption or gross human rights violations perpetrated against whistleblowers,” the statement reads.

The law will also enhance congressional involvement in the designation of individuals to be investigated for human rights violations and helps to ensure that U.S. financial institutions are not complicit in supporting those profiting off of atrocities.

Corruption & Oppression in Africa

Although Africa is one of the richest continents in the world due to its mineral resources, a significant percentage of its population still wallows in abject poverty.

Runaway corruption, war, and poor management of resources are just a few of the reasons why many Africans have remained poor.

Most African leaders instigate and exploit tribal divisions in order to start wars that only serve their acquisitive interests, such as buying high-end properties in foreign countries, as their citizens continue to slaughter one another.

“The Global Magnitsky Act is a groundbreaking achievement in the realm of atrocity prevention. Not only does it make explicit the critical nexus between corruption and human rights abuses around the globe, but this bipartisan initiative also establishes a foundational framework through which real action can be taken against perpetrators and enablers of some of the worst crimes known to humanity,” Rachel Finn, advocacy manager at the Enough Project, says.

Each year, the United States spends billions of dollars on Africa through the U.S. Agency for International Development, and most African governments rely on this support to provide essential services to its citizens.

Therefore, any economic sanctions imposed by the United States could spell doom for most African leaders and their governments.

Last Edited by:Abena Agyeman-Fisher Updated: December 9, 2016


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