Human Rights First Welcomes Enactment of Russia Sanctions Bill

Human Rights First applauded President Trump’s signing of bipartisan legislation codifying, strengthening, and expanding sanctions against Russia for its interference in the 2016 U.S. presidential election, as well as for corrupt practices and human rights abuses, aggressive activities in Ukraine, and military actions in Syria.

“These sanctions send a strong message to Russia regarding its interference in the 2016 U.S. election, strengthening the United States’ role in negotiations over Ukraine, and making clear that human rights are at the heart of American foreign policy,” said Human Rights First’s Melissa Hooper. “With this powerful tool, the United States can hold the Kremlin accountable for undermining human rights standards both within and beyond Russian borders.”

In order to remove sanctions, the president must submit a proposal to Congress certifying that the individual or entity sanctioned is no longer engaging in the offending activity. Congress can approve or reject the President’s proposal.

The new law mandates sanctions for individuals responsible for human rights abuses and those who materially assist in such abuses. It also mandates sanctions against companies or individuals that knowingly attempt or assist in sanctions evasion. An innovative section of the law requires the Treasury Department to author a report on the “weaponization of corruption,” including current efforts and new strategies for combating illicit financial flows from Russia into the United States. The law also mandates reports on Russian influence on elections in Europe and Eurasia, and media organizations controlled by the Russian government.

“Sanctions are only useful if they are applied and enforced,” added Hooper. “This administration has waffled on holding Russia accountable, which is why it is so important that Congress spoke with a clear and unified voice. Today the president can tell President Putin and his cronies that the United States stands against the reckless violation of international law and human rights standards.”

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