Archive for December, 2017

Ramazon Kadyrov and Ayub Kataev Sanctioned by the United States Government for Human Rights Violations

The latest “Magnitsky List” – individuals sanctioned by the United States government for human rights violations in Russia – contains welcome news for those seeking justice for the tragic roundups, killings, and disappearances of LGBT men and women in Chechnya. Released by the Treasury Department on December 20, the list includes two men widely viewed as responsible for those heinous acts: Ramazon Kadyrov and Ayub Kataev.

Kadyrov is a brutal, Kremlin-backed dictator in the Russian Republic of Chechnya, who runs the region with an iron fist and certainly blessed the recent wave of LGBT persecution there. Kataev runs the prisons in Chechnya, where gay men have been mercilessly tortured. The Treasury Department designated Kadyrov “for being responsible for extrajudicial killing and torture,” and noted in more specific terms that “Kataev is reported to have been involved in abuses against gay men in Chechnya during the first half of 2017.”

Inclusion of these two criminals on the list signals some measure of support by the Trump Administration for fair policies toward, and fair treatment of, LGBT people worldwide. It underscores, too, the value of the Magnitsky Act* as a tool in sanctioning those credibly deemed “….responsible for extrajudicial killings, torture, or other gross violations of internationally recognized human rights…..” Failing to hold Kadyrov and Kataev accountable under the Act’s provisions would have raised further questions about the value this Administration attaches to the Act and to human rights more broadly.

Based on this designation, we urge U.S. companies that do business with these two individuals, including especially Facebook and Instagram, to deny them service. As global outlaws, U.S. corporations should not aid their violent ends. President Kadyrov, in particular, has a very active Instagram account that must be shut down.

With this call, we are not trying to muzzle free speech on Instagram, but Kadyrov has crossed a clear line. For him, Instagram is not just a platform that allows him to communicate with his fellow citizens. Instead, he uses it as one of his primary instruments of oppression and propaganda, a platform from which he makes threats against adversaries and intimidates the public. Ultimately, he uses it as a tool to perpetuate and justify his violence. We are reaching out to Instagram and hope you will join us in calling for his account to be shut down for good.

*Signed into law in December 2012, the Magnitsky Act carries an exclusive focus on Russia. Its companion act, the Global Magnitsky Act, was signed into law last year and carries a worldwide focus. Global Magnitsky sanctions are expected to be announced this month as well.

McCain & Cardin Urge President Trump To Recommit To Upholding Human Rights

Sen. John McCain and Sen. Ben CardinPress Statement from Sen. John McCain and Sen. Ben Cardin

Washington, D.C. ­– U.S. Senators John McCain (R-AZ), Chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, and Ben Cardin (D-MD), Ranking Member of the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations, sent a letter to President Trump today as the world marks the 69th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights on Human Rights Day this Sunday, December 10th. In their letter, the senators expressed concern about the Trump administration’s failure to strongly assert the United States’ commitment to human rights at home and abroad, and urged the President to recommit the nation to these fundamental values as we mark this important occasion.

“Since its ratification nearly 70 years ago, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights has been a beacon of hope for the world’s most oppressed peoples. The declaration serves as the basis of our country’s human rights policy and the United States has continued to rely on its legal significance and international standing to advance human rights across the globe. However, for much of the past year, our national voice on international human rights issues has been largely silent,” the senators wrote.

They continued: “This was strikingly apparent during your recent trip to Asia, where our delegation failed to raise major human rights concerns or name dissidents who languish in dark prisons across the region for no other reason than their brave defense of democracy and human rights. The Administration’s silence combined with confusing statements from Secretary Tillerson, who has suggested that our country’s fundamental values can be separated from the foreign policies we pursue, sows confusion both at home and abroad. At this time of increasing uncertainty and growing security challenges, it is imperative that we reassert the United States’ commitment to our human rights obligations, and ask other countries to join us in reaffirming the centrality of human rights as the cornerstone of peace and security.”

 

The letter is below and here.

December 8, 2017

President Donald J. Trump
President of the United States
The White House
1600 Pennsylvania Ave. NW
Washington, DC 20500

Mr. President:

The world will mark the 69th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights on Human Rights Day this December 10. On this momentous occasion, we write to ask that you recommit our country to upholding human rights as one of our founding principles, and respectfully call on other countries to do the same.

Since its ratification nearly 70 years ago, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights has been a beacon of hope for the world’s most oppressed peoples. The declaration serves as the basis of our country’s human rights policy and the United States has continued to rely on its legal significance and international standing to advance human rights across the globe. However, for much of the past year, our national voice on international human rights issues has been largely silent.

This was strikingly apparent during your recent trip to Asia, where our delegation failed to raise major human rights concerns or name dissidents who languish in dark prisons across the region for no other reason than their brave defense of democracy and human rights. The Administration’s silence combined with confusing statements from Secretary Tillerson, who has suggested that our country’s fundamental values can be separated from the foreign policies we pursue, sows confusion both at home and abroad. At this time of increasing uncertainty and growing security challenges, it is imperative that we reassert the United States’ commitment to our human rights obligations, and ask other countries to join us in reaffirming the centrality of human rights as the cornerstone of peace and security.

Sadly, disregard for fundamental freedoms and human dignity has too often become the norm. Iran, Turkey, Russia, Egypt, and Venezuela currently hold scores of political prisoners, torturing them and trampling on their fundamental freedoms. Sri Lanka, Burma, and China continue to repress their religious and ethnic minorities. Security forces in Rwanda and the Democratic Republic of Congo have unlawfully detained and tortured civilians. The Philippines has reported an unprecedented number of extrajudicial killings by police. LGBT individuals are deprived of their basic human rights in dozens of countries. Worse still, at this time of growing human rights abuses, human rights organizations are being shut down at an alarming rate by countless repressive governments around the world.

These are only a few of the many instances in which America’s voice cannot remain silent. Protecting human rights at home and abroad is important not only to our national character, but also to our security interests as countries that respect their citizens are less likely to breed terrorism and are better able to focus on political and developmental problems that otherwise undermine stability. Governments who respect human rights also serve as more capable and reliable partners when facing common security threats, and they help provide business climates in which bilateral trade and investment interests grow.

As President, we need your voice in strongly asserting our country’s respect for human rights at home and abroad. We ask that you use the upcoming anniversary of the Universal Declaration to reaffirm that no government can be legitimate if it abuses the people it is meant to serve – and that this rule is universal, without exception.

Sincerely,

John McCain

Benjamin L. Cardin

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