On December 21, 2017, the United States Department of Treasury released the names of 13 individuals who have been sanctioned by the United States under the Global Magnitsky Human Rights Accountability Act. It truly was a great day for those who fight and have fought for justice around the world.  Among the perpetrators named were the former dictator of Gambia; an Israeli billionaire close to Congo’s president who has robbed the Congo of its wealth and helped foment further conflict; the head of Nicaragua’s Supreme Electoral Council; and the daughter of the former dictator of Uzbekistan.  Others from Russia, South Sudan, Serbia, Burma, Pakistan, Dominican Republic, China, Ukraine and Guatemala have also been sanctioned, along with 39 affiliated individuals and entities associated with the criminals.

The U.S. government’s actions show abuses take place globally, regardless of geography, and these criminals flagrantly subvert international laws and banking regulations. For these 13, that subversion ends, and others around the world should take notice.  The United States continues its commitment to punishing those responsible for heinous crimes against humanity when home countries will not or cannot. However, let us not forget who this act is named for: Sergei Magnitsky, a Russian auditor and lawyer who tried to expose corruption at the highest levels in the Russian government.  He was arrested in 2008 and died nearly a year later while in prison, not willing to renounce his findings of mass government corruption. His courage lives on through thousands more like him in Russia and elsewhere around the world.

At the McCain Institute, we carry on Sergei Magnitsky’s values of honesty, fairness and decency and support others like him so they too can seek integrity and freedom. More needs to be done to prevent atrocities around the world and protect individuals like Sergei Magnitsky, who showed leadership and bravery under the harshest of conditions.  His courage and conviction inspire current and future human rights activists around the world. The McCain Institute honors his legacy and those like him by promoting human rights as a foundation to our mission.