The U.S. Capitol Building is seen on April 28, 2020, in Washington. CPJ recently joined several letters urging senators to increase Global Magnitsky Act funding. (AP/Andrew Harnik)

CPJ joins letters calling on US Senate to increase Magnitsky Act funding

May 4, 2020 12:00 PM ET

The Committee to Protect Journalists recently joined 50 democracy, human rights, and anti-corruption organizations and experts in three letters urging U.S. Congressional leaders to retain and increase funding and capacity for the enforcement of the Global Magnitsky Act.

The Global Magnitsky Human Rights Accountability Act is a 2016 law that empowers the executive branch of the U.S. government to place visa bans and asset freezes on human rights abusers and corrupt officials around the world.

However, the letters note that the number of suspected perpetrators to vet exceeds staff capacity of the U.S. Treasury, State, and Justice Departments, the government branches that primarily work on Global Magnitsky Act enforcement. The letters, sent to Democratic and Republican Senate leaders, urged senators to increase funding for these departments, and to provide more specific language as to how these departments should use those funds to hire additional staff.

The Global Magnitsky Act has been used three times to sanction individuals believed to be involved in the murders of journalists. It was used to sanction Marian Kocner, a Slovak businessman accused of contracting the murder of journalist Jan Kuciak, in 2019; to sanction 17 individuals for the murder of Washington Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi in 2018; and to sanction Julio Antonio Juarez Ramirez for ordering an attack which left two journalists dead and one injured in Guatemala in 2017.

You can read the letters here: