NEW YORK—PEN America joined with ten other non-governmental organizations in a meeting yesterday with representatives from the U.S. Departments of State and Treasury to discuss sanctions recommendations under the Global Magnitsky Human Rights Accountability Act. 

In the meeting, which was facilitated by Human Rights First, PEN America representatives participated in a wide-ranging discussion of sanctions recommendations in 21 individual cases concerning alleged human rights abuses and acts of corruption in 14 countries. The information provided by these organizations to the US government calls for the imposition of targeted sanctions against human rights abusers and corrupt actors in Azerbaijan, Bahrain, Burundi, Cambodia, the Central African Republic, China, the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), Honduras, Hungary, Malaysia, Russia, Sudan, Turkey, and Vietnam. Members of the group also voiced support for Global Magnitsky Act sanctions to be imposed against human rights abusers who have previously been proposed in Burma and Egypt, and discussed the prospects for additional viable designations in Armenia, Sri Lanka, The Gambia, Tunisia, Uzbekistan, and Zimbabwe.

PEN America has welcomed the U.S. government’s recent actions to sanction human rights abusers and corrupt actors, including those who suppress individuals’ rights to freedom of expression, under the Global Magnitsky Act, including designations of individuals in Burma, Cambodia, the Dominican Republic, China, the DRC, Gambia, Guatemala, Nicaragua, Pakistan, Russia, Serbia, South Sudan, Ukraine, and Uzbekistan.

“With the Global Magnitsky Act, championed in Congress by Senators John McCain (R-AZ) and Benjamin Cardin (D-MD), the US government has been provided a powerful tool to deter the world’s worst murderers, torturers, and thieves—who often seek to bring their stolen assets to the United States or to travel here,” said Thomas O. Melia, PEN America Washington Director. “We look forward to seeing the Administration move forward as soon as possible to make additional designations.”

The Global Magnitsky Human Rights Accountability Act is the most comprehensive human rights and anti-corruption sanctions tool in US history. Passed with bipartisan support and signed into law in December 2016, the law is named after whistleblower Sergei Magnitsky, who was imprisoned and murdered in 2009 by Russian authorities after exposing a large-scale fraud. Under this law, the US government may sanction foreign individuals and entities found to have committed gross violations of human rights, or to have engaged in significant acts of corruption, by subjecting designees to asset freezes and visa restrictions. The law expands upon the 2012 Magnitsky Act, which applied only to Russian individuals and entities. To date, the U.S. government has sanctioned 20 individuals and 56 associated entities through four separate rounds of Global Magnitsky Act sanctions designations.  Legislation similar to, and inspired by, the December 2016 US Global Magnitsky Act has subsequently been enacted in other countries, including the United Kingdom, Canada, Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania.


PEN America stands at the intersection of literature and human rights to protect open expression in the United States and worldwide. We champion the freedom to write, recognizing the power of the word to transform the world. Our mission is to unite writers and their allies to celebrate creative expression and defend the liberties that make it possible.


Anoosh Gasparian, External Relations Manager: