Treasury Targets Repression and the Undermining of Democracy
Sanctions Across Three Countries Latest in Week of Actions Leading to Summit for Democracy
The U.S. Department of the Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) is designating 15 actors across three countries in connection with serious human rights abuse and repressive acts targeting innocent civilians, political opponents, and peaceful protestors. As part of a whole-of-government commitment to democracy, Treasury is taking a number of actions aimed at promoting accountability for those who undermine trust in democratic institutions. Treasury is equipped with powerful tools to target the financial systems and flows that allow bad actors to profit from corruption and abuse. In addition, OFAC is designating two entities and two individuals that the Department of State has identified as responsible for certain gross violations of human rights in Iran.
“Ahead of this week’s Summit for Democracy, Treasury is targeting over a dozen government officials across three countries in connection with serious human rights abuse that undermines democracy,” said Director of the Office of Foreign Assets Control Andrea M. Gacki. “Treasury will continue to defend against authoritarianism, promoting accountability for violent repression of people seeking to exercise their human rights and fundamental freedoms.”
Actions are taken pursuant to the following authorities: Executive Order (E.O.) 13818, which builds upon and implements the Global Magnitsky Human Rights Accountability Act, and targets perpetrators of corruption and serious human rights abuse; E.O. 13553, which imposes sanctions on certain persons with respect to serious human rights abuses by the Government of Iran; Section 106 of the Countering America’s Adversaries Through Sanctions Act (CAATSA), which allows Treasury to designate persons listed by the Secretary of State as responsible for gross violations of human rights against individuals in Iran who seek to expose illegal activity carried out by officials of the Government of Iran, or to obtain, exercise, defend, or promote internationally recognized human rights and freedoms; as well as E.O. 13572, which, among other things, imposes sanctions on certain persons responsible for or complicit in human rights abuses in Syria, as well as senior officials of, or entities owned or controlled by, persons blocked pursuant to E.O. 13572.
REPRESSION AND THE UNDERMINING OF DEMOCRACY
Democratic values and human rights are under threat around the world. Human rights defenders, members of civil society groups, journalists, and ordinary people seeking to exercise their right to freedom of expression and right of peaceful assembly face threats of violent repression from authoritarian leaders. Allowing this activity to continue unchallenged not only abandons and threatens victims of human rights abuses, but also poses a direct threat to the national security of the United States. Countries with repressive political regimes are often unstable over the long run, and they export instability regionally and worldwide. These regimes are often a threat to the peace and security of other nations. Standing up for human rights is not only consistent with American values but also U.S. national interests.
REPRESSION IN UGANDA: ABEL KANDIHO
As commander of the Ugandan Chieftaincy of Military Intelligence (CMI), Major General Abel Kandiho (Kandiho) and other CMI officers have arrested, detained, and physically abused persons in Uganda. The CMI targeted individuals due to their nationality, political views, or critique of the Ugandan government. Individuals were taken into custody and held, often without legal proceedings, at CMI detention facilities where they were subjected to horrific beatings and other egregious acts by CMI officials, including sexual abuse and electrocutions, often resulting in significant long-term injury and even death. During these incarcerations, victims were kept in solitary confinement and unable to contact friends, family, or legal support. In some cases, Kandiho was personally involved, leading interrogations of detained individuals.
Kandiho is designated pursuant to E.O. 13818 for being a foreign person who is or has been a leader or official of an entity that has engaged in, or whose members have engaged in, serious human rights abuse relating to his tenure.
Building upon the Global Magnitsky Human Rights Accountability Act, E.O. 13818 was issued on December 20, 2017, in recognition that the prevalence of human rights abuse and corruption that have their source, in whole or in substantial part, outside the United States, had reached such scope and gravity as to threaten the stability of international political and economic systems. Human rights abuse and corruption undermine the values that form an essential foundation of stable, secure, and functioning societies; have devastating impacts on individuals; weaken democratic institutions; degrade the rule of law; perpetuate violent conflicts; facilitate the activities of dangerous persons; and undermine economic markets. The United States seeks to impose tangible and significant consequences on those who commit serious human rights abuse or engage in corruption, as well as to protect the financial system of the United States from abuse by these same persons