EU global human rights sanctions regime (EU Magnitsky Act)

European Parliament res­o­lu­tion of 8 July 2021 on the EU Global Human Rights Sanctions Regime (EU Magnitsky Act) (2021/2563(RSP))

The European Parliament,

–  hav­ing regard to its rec­om­men­da­tion to the Council of 2 February 2012 on a con­sis­tent pol­i­cy towards regimes against which the EU applies restric­tive mea­sures, when their lead­ers exer­cise their per­son­al and com­mer­cial inter­ests with­in EU bor­ders(1),

–  hav­ing regard to its res­o­lu­tion of 14 March 2019 on a European human rights vio­la­tions sanc­tions regime(2),

–  hav­ing regard to its pre­vi­ous res­o­lu­tions call­ing for an EU-wide mech­a­nism for impos­ing tar­get­ed sanc­tions against indi­vid­u­als involved in grave human rights vio­la­tions, includ­ing its res­o­lu­tion of 4 September 2008 on the eval­u­a­tion of EU sanc­tions as part of the EU’s actions and poli­cies in the area of human rights(3), its res­o­lu­tion of 11 March 2014 on the erad­i­ca­tion of tor­ture in the world(4) and its res­o­lu­tion of 20 January 2021 on the imple­men­ta­tion of the Common Foreign and Security Policy – annu­al report 2020(5),

–  hav­ing regard to its res­o­lu­tion of 20 January 2021 on human rights and democ­ra­cy in the world and the European Union’s pol­i­cy on the mat­ter – annu­al report 2019(6),

–  hav­ing regard to its res­o­lu­tion of 13 September 2017 on cor­rup­tion and human rights in third coun­tries(7) and its res­o­lu­tion of 5 July 2016 on the fight against traf­fick­ing in human beings in the EU’s exter­nal rela­tions(8),

–  hav­ing regard to its res­o­lu­tions on breach­es of human rights, democ­ra­cy and the rule of law (known as urgency res­o­lu­tions) in accor­dance with Rule 144 of its Rules of Procedure,

–  hav­ing regard to Title V, Chapter 2 of the Treaty on European Union (TEU), regard­ing the adop­tion of sanc­tions under the Common Foreign and Security Policy (CFSP),

–  hav­ing regard to Article 21 TEU on the prin­ci­ples of inter­na­tion­al actions of the Union, includ­ing respect for the prin­ci­ples of the United Nations Charter and inter­na­tion­al law,

–  hav­ing regard to Article 31(2) TEU on spe­cif­ic pro­vi­sions on the CSFP,

–  hav­ing regard to Article 215 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union (TFEU) on the adop­tion of sanc­tions against both third coun­tries and indi­vid­u­als, groups and non-state entities,

–  hav­ing regard to Declaration 25 of the Lisbon Treaty on the need to ensure due process rights of indi­vid­u­als or enti­ties con­cerned by EU restric­tive mea­sures or EU mea­sures in com­bat­ing terrorism,

–  hav­ing regard to the joint pro­pos­al by the Commission and the VP/HR of 19 October 2020 con­cern­ing restric­tive mea­sures against seri­ous human rights vio­la­tions and abus­es (JOIN(2020)0020),

–  hav­ing regard to Council Decision (CFSP) 2020/1999(9) and Council Regulation (EU) 2020/1998(10) of 7 December 2020 con­cern­ing restric­tive mea­sures against seri­ous human rights vio­la­tions and abuses,

–  hav­ing regard to Council Implementing Regulation (EU) 2021/371 of 2 March 2021(11) and Council Implementing Regulation (EU) 2021/478 of 22 March 2021(12) imple­ment­ing Regulation (EU) 2020/1998 con­cern­ing restric­tive mea­sures against seri­ous human rights vio­la­tions and abuses,

–  hav­ing regard to Directive (EU) 2017/1371 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 5 July 2017 on the fight against fraud to the Union’s finan­cial inter­ests by means of crim­i­nal law(13),

–  hav­ing regard to Council Regulation (EU) 2017/1939 of 12 October 2017 imple­ment­ing enhanced coop­er­a­tion on the estab­lish­ment of the European Public Prosecutor’s Office (‘the EPPO’)(14),

–  hav­ing regard to the Council con­clu­sions of 18 November 2020 on the EU Action Plan on Human Rights and Democracy 2020–2024,

–  hav­ing regard to the EU Strategic Framework on Human Rights and Democracy of 2012,

–  hav­ing regard to the Commission guid­ance note of 17 December 2020 on the imple­men­ta­tion of cer­tain pro­vi­sions of Council Regulation (EU) 2020/1998 (C(2020)9432),

–  hav­ing regard to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and oth­er UN human rights treaties and instruments,

–  hav­ing regard to the United Nations Convention against Corruption and the polit­i­cal dec­la­ra­tion of the spe­cial ses­sion of the General Assembly on chal­lenges and mea­sures to pre­vent and com­bat cor­rup­tion and strength­en inter­na­tion­al coop­er­a­tion of 2–4 June 2021,

–  hav­ing regard to the European Convention on Human Rights and the pro­to­cols thereto,

–  hav­ing regard to its study of 26 April 2018 enti­tled ‘Targeted sanc­tions against indi­vid­u­als on grounds of grave human rights vio­la­tions – impact, trends and prospects at EU level’,

–  hav­ing regard to the deci­sion of the Criminal Chamber of the Spanish Supreme Court of 26 November 2020 regard­ing Council Decision (CFSP) 2017/2074 of 13 November 2017 con­cern­ing restric­tive mea­sures in view of the sit­u­a­tion in Venezuela(15),

–  hav­ing regard to the ques­tions to the Commission and to the Vice-President of the Commission / High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy on the EU Global Human Rights Sanctions Regime (EU Magnitsky Act) (O‑000047/2021 – B9‑0028/2021 and O‑000048/2021 – B9‑0029/2021),

–  hav­ing regard to Rules 136(5) and 132(2) of its Rules of Procedure,

–  hav­ing regard to the motion for a res­o­lu­tion of the Committee on Foreign Affairs,

A.  where­as Article 21 TEU stip­u­lates that the actions of the Union shall be guid­ed by democ­ra­cy, the rule of law, the uni­ver­sal­i­ty and indi­vis­i­bil­i­ty of human rights and fun­da­men­tal free­doms, respect for human dig­ni­ty, the prin­ci­ples of equal­i­ty and sol­i­dar­i­ty, and respect for the prin­ci­ples of the United Nations Charter and inter­na­tion­al law;

B.  where­as under Article 215 TFEU the EU adopts sanc­tions, either as the EU’s own mea­sures (i.e. autonomous sanc­tions) and/or in order to imple­ment United Nations Security Council res­o­lu­tions, in cas­es where non-EU coun­tries, nat­ur­al or legal per­sons, groups or non-state enti­ties do not respect inter­na­tion­al law or human rights, or pur­sue poli­cies or actions that do not abide by the rule of law or demo­c­ra­t­ic principles;

C.  where­as the Commission com­mu­ni­ca­tion of 19 January 2021 enti­tled the ‘European eco­nom­ic and finan­cial sys­tem: fos­ter­ing open­ness, strength and resilience’ (COM(2021)0032) out­lines mea­sures for improv­ing the effec­tive­ness of EU sanc­tions, ensur­ing that these are not cir­cum­vent­ed or under­mined and estab­lish­ing a sanc­tions infor­ma­tion exchange repos­i­to­ry, as well as a roadmap to move from the detec­tion of sys­temic non-com­pli­ance with EU sanc­tions to infringe­ment pro­ce­dures before the Court of Justice of the European Union;

D.  where­as the Dutch Government ini­ti­at­ed a dis­cus­sion among EU Member States in November 2018 on a tar­get­ed human rights sanc­tions regime at EU lev­el; where­as the Council final­ly adopt­ed the rel­e­vant deci­sion and a reg­u­la­tion estab­lish­ing an EU Global Human Rights Sanctions Regime on 7 December 2020;

E.  where­as the European Parliament sys­tem­at­i­cal­ly con­demns cas­es of human rights violations;

F.  where­as very often the res­o­lu­tions adopt­ed by the European Parliament call for the EU insti­tu­tions to adopt sanc­tions, includ­ing indi­vid­ual sanc­tions, against per­sons sus­pect­ed of com­mit­ting crimes against human­i­ty or seri­ous human rights violations;

G.  where­as cor­rup­tion can have a dev­as­tat­ing impact on the state of human rights and often under­mines the func­tion­ing and legit­i­ma­cy of insti­tu­tions and the rule of law; where­as Parliament has called for abus­es and acts of sys­temic cor­rup­tion relat­ed to grave human rights vio­la­tions to be also con­sid­ered with­in the EU Global Human Rights Sanctions Regime;

H.  where­as the United States, Canada, and the United Kingdom have adopt­ed sim­i­lar sanc­tion regimes; where­as coop­er­a­tion among like-mind­ed coun­tries that share the val­ues of fun­da­men­tal rights, democ­ra­cy, and rule of law will make the appli­ca­tion of tar­get­ed sanc­tions more coor­di­nat­ed and there­by more effec­tive; where­as the UK gov­ern­ment launched a Global Anti-Corruption Sanctions Regime on 26 April 2021;

1.  Welcomes the adop­tion of the EU Global Human Rights Sanctions Regime (EU GHRSR) as an essen­tial addi­tion to the EU’s human rights and for­eign pol­i­cy tool­box, which strength­ens the EU’s role as a glob­al human rights actor by allow­ing it to take restric­tive mea­sures against legal and nat­ur­al per­sons involved in seri­ous human rights vio­la­tions every­where in the world; stress­es that the new regime must form part of a broad­er, coher­ent and clear­ly defined strat­e­gy that takes account of the EU’s for­eign pol­i­cy objec­tives; under­lines that the strat­e­gy should also seek to iden­ti­fy spe­cif­ic bench­marks that are con­nect­ed to the objec­tives, and detail how sanc­tions can help meet those bench­marks; regrets, how­ev­er, that the Council has decid­ed to apply una­nim­i­ty instead of qual­i­fied major­i­ty vot­ing when adopt­ing the new regime, and reit­er­ates its call for the intro­duc­tion of qual­i­fied major­i­ty vot­ing for the adop­tion of sanc­tions under the scope of the EU GHRSR;

2.  Welcomes the def­i­n­i­tion of the regime’s scope with a list of spe­cif­ic seri­ous human rights abus­es, includ­ing those relat­ed to sex­u­al and gen­der-based vio­lence, and calls on the Commission to come for­ward with a leg­isla­tive pro­pos­al to amend the cur­rent EU GHRSR leg­is­la­tion by extend­ing its scope to include acts of cor­rup­tion; urges the European External Action Service (EEAS) and the Member States to employ flex­i­bil­i­ty in adapt­ing it to emerg­ing chal­lenges and threats to human rights or abuse of state or emer­gency pow­ers, includ­ing those relat­ed to COVID-19 restric­tions or vio­lence against human rights defend­ers; high­lights that the EU’s sanc­tions are tar­get­ed at per­sons vio­lat­ing human rights and are not intend­ed to impact the enjoy­ment of human rights by the population;

3.  Welcomes the announce­ment that the Commission will con­duct in 2021 a review of prac­tices that cir­cum­vent and under­mine sanc­tions, as well as a review of the exist­ing report­ing oblig­a­tions for Member States on the imple­men­ta­tion and enforce­ment of sanc­tions; calls on the Commission and the Vice-President of the Commission / High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy (VP/HR) to take into account the results of this review in order to pro­pose addi­tion­al leg­isla­tive changes and imple­men­ta­tion guide­lines accordingly;

4.  Underlines the impor­tance of ensur­ing that the regime also tar­gets eco­nom­ic and finan­cial enablers of human rights abusers and to the same extent; in case acts of cor­rup­tion are not includ­ed in the revi­sion of the exist­ing regime, calls for the EU and its Member States to draw on the UK leg­isla­tive pro­pos­al for Global Anti-Corruption Sanctions Regulations or the US Global Magnitsky Act or the Canadian Justice for Victims of Corrupt Foreign Officials Act, or oth­er sim­i­lar regimes, and adopt an EU anti-cor­rup­tion sanc­tions regime in order to com­ple­ment the EU GHRSR;

5.  Welcomes the United States’ 2016 Global Magnitsky Act and the lead­ing role this Act has played in inspir­ing oth­er inter­na­tion­al actors, includ­ing the EU, in its efforts to safe­guard human rights;

6.  Welcomes the first imple­ment­ing deci­sions under the regime, which prove the EU’s com­mit­ment to make good use of the new ambi­tious instru­ment; encour­ages the Council to make full use of this instru­ment in order to strength­en its impact;

7.  Is con­vinced of the effec­tive­ness of the new regime, includ­ing its deter­rent effects; firm­ly believes that the high­est pos­si­ble stan­dards in terms of judi­cial review and prop­er scruti­ny of its imple­men­ta­tion are inte­gral to ensure the legit­i­ma­cy of the regime; empha­sis­es the need for a reg­u­lar review of list­ings, clear­ly defined and trans­par­ent cri­te­ria and method­ol­o­gy for the list­ing and de-list­ing of sanc­tioned indi­vid­u­als or enti­ties, and appro­pri­ate legal pro­ce­dures through which a list­ing can be chal­lenged in order to guar­an­tee a thor­ough judi­cial review and redress rights;

8.  Condemns any coun­ter­sanc­tions imposed on the EU, its insti­tu­tions or mem­bers of par­lia­ment, bod­ies or cit­i­zens sole­ly for pro­mot­ing and pro­tect­ing respect for human rights, democ­ra­cy and the rule of law through the EU GHRSR; recalls that retal­ia­to­ry mea­sures are aimed at deter­ring the EU from pur­su­ing its glob­al actions to pro­tect human rights in line with its Treaty oblig­a­tions: under­lines the need for a swift, robust and coor­di­nat­ed EU response to retal­ia­to­ry sanc­tions by third coun­tries and the need to ensure that bilat­er­al agree­ments with such coun­tries do not under­mine the EU GHRSR or the EU’s cred­i­bil­i­ty in for­eign pol­i­cy in general;

9.  Stresses the need for all EU Member States to inter­pret the appli­ca­tion and enforce­ment of sanc­tions in the same con­sis­tent and swift man­ner; urges the Commission, in its role as guardian of the Treaties, to ensure that nation­al penal­ties for breach­ing EU sanc­tions are effec­tive, pro­por­tion­ate and dis­sua­sive; con­sid­ers that a fail­ure to take appro­pri­ate mea­sures in sit­u­a­tions marked by per­sis­tent human rights vio­la­tions would under­mine the EU’s human rights strat­e­gy, sanc­tions pol­i­cy and cred­i­bil­i­ty; believes that a cen­tralised over­sight mech­a­nism on imple­men­ta­tion and com­pli­ance is nec­es­sary to ensure stronger sanc­tions enforce­ment; wel­comes the announce­ment that the Commission pro­pos­es to estab­lish a sanc­tions infor­ma­tion repos­i­to­ry and to draw up a roadmap (includ­ing cri­te­ria and a timetable) for mov­ing from the detec­tion of sys­tem­at­ic non-com­pli­ance with EU sanc­tions to infringe­ment pro­ce­dures before the Court of Justice of the European Union;

10.  Stresses that the Member States must ensure that author­i­ties, com­pa­nies and oth­er actors reg­is­tered on their ter­ri­to­ries are in full com­pli­ance with the Council deci­sions on restric­tive mea­sures; urges the Member States and the Commission to increase coop­er­a­tion and infor­ma­tion shar­ing, and calls for a strength­ened European over­sight and enforce­ment mech­a­nism; calls on the Council to reg­u­lar­ly update the com­pa­nies on the sanc­tion lists, as the com­pa­nies list­ed tend to use legal loop­holes and find oth­er cre­ative solu­tions in order to avoid being under sanctions;

11.  Is con­vinced that breach­es of restric­tive mea­sures, and of asset freezes in par­tic­u­lar, con­sti­tute an ille­gal activ­i­ty affect­ing the Union’s finan­cial inter­ests; calls for an assess­ment of the appro­pri­ate­ness of revis­ing Directive (EU) 2017/1371 and Council Regulation (EU) 2017/1939 in order to task the European Public Prosecutor’s Office with the respon­si­bil­i­ty of inves­ti­gat­ing, pros­e­cut­ing and bring­ing to judg­ment the per­pe­tra­tors of, and accom­plices to, crim­i­nal offences in breach of restric­tive mea­sures adopt­ed under the EU GHRSR;

12.  Regrets that the European Parliament has no insti­tu­tion­al role in the process; calls for par­lia­men­tary over­sight of the EU GHRSR and an enhanced role for the European Parliament in propos­ing cas­es of seri­ous human rights vio­la­tions, in order to increase the legit­i­ma­cy of the EU GHRSR, and calls for the estab­lish­ment of a ded­i­cat­ed Parliamentary Working Group to scru­ti­nise the imple­men­ta­tion of the sanc­tions regime; calls for sys­tem­at­ic and insti­tu­tion­alised infor­ma­tion shar­ing with, and report­ing to, Parliament, and the Member States, by the EEAS and the Commission;

13.  Insists on a trans­par­ent and inclu­sive process to facil­i­tate input by civ­il soci­ety actors, includ­ing the set­ting up of an EU-lev­el advi­so­ry com­mit­tee and reg­u­lar meet­ings with civ­il soci­ety organ­i­sa­tions, human rights defend­ers and inves­tiga­tive jour­nal­ists, with a view to mon­i­tor­ing the state of play of the regime and improv­ing its imple­men­ta­tion; calls on the EEAS to issue guid­ance on how to par­tic­i­pate in the process and under­lines the need for con­fi­den­tial­i­ty and a wit­ness pro­tec­tion mech­a­nism to be put in place for those who pro­vide infor­ma­tion, such as human rights defend­ers and organisations;

14.  Stresses that tar­get­ed sanc­tions must aim at achiev­ing effec­tive and last­ing results; calls on the Commission, the EEAS and the Member States to ded­i­cate ade­quate resources and exper­tise to enforc­ing and reg­u­lar­ly mon­i­tor­ing the impact of the EU GHRSR, and to mon­i­tor list­ings and de-list­ings close­ly; insists on the need to devote more atten­tion and resources to pub­lic com­mu­ni­ca­tion about the list­ings, both in the EU and in the coun­tries con­cerned, includ­ing through the trans­la­tion of rel­e­vant doc­u­men­ta­tion in the local lan­guage of the tar­get­ed indi­vid­u­als or entities;

15.  Recalls the need for a uni­fied and coher­ent strat­e­gy to imple­ment the EU sanc­tion regimes, and calls on the Commission and the EEAS to ensure coher­ence between the EU GHRSR and the EU’s exter­nal poli­cies, in par­tic­u­lar with its human rights and democ­ra­cy sup­port poli­cies, as well as the com­mon for­eign and secu­ri­ty pol­i­cy (CFSP) and com­mon secu­ri­ty and defence pol­i­cy (CSDP); calls fur­ther­more for con­sis­ten­cy between the EU sanc­tion regimes and inter­na­tion­al crim­i­nal law, inter­na­tion­al human­i­tar­i­an law and the EU poli­cies relat­ed to the rule of law and fun­da­men­tal freedoms;

16.  Reiterates the impor­tance of the EU GHRSR being con­sis­tent with and com­ple­ment­ing the EU’s coun­try-spe­cif­ic and hor­i­zon­tal restric­tive mea­sures, sec­toral mea­sures and arms embar­gos and the exist­ing inter­na­tion­al frame­works on sanc­tions, notably in rela­tion to the UN Security Council;

17.  Calls for the EU to estab­lish with the US a transat­lantic alliance to defend democ­ra­cy glob­al­ly and to pro­pose a democ­ra­cy defence toolk­it, which would include joint actions on sanc­tions and anti-mon­ey laun­der­ing poli­cies, and to ensure that its sanc­tions pol­i­cy is linked to the EU and inter­na­tion­al inves­ti­ga­tions and many oth­er inter­na­tion­al jus­tice instru­ments, such as inter­na­tion­al tri­bunals and the ini­tia­tive on an EU jus­tice hub;

18.  Is con­vinced of the advan­tages of coop­er­at­ing and coor­di­nat­ing with part­ners and like- mind­ed coun­tries in imple­ment­ing the EU GHRSR; encour­ages the Commission and the Member States to draw from the close coop­er­a­tion and strate­gic rela­tion­ship between the EU and the US, built on com­mon his­to­ry and a shared set of demo­c­ra­t­ic val­ues, when estab­lish­ing sanc­tions and calls for reg­u­lar dis­cus­sions on tar­get­ed sanc­tions, notably with­in the con­text of the Transatlantic Legislators’ Dialogue; calls on the Commission and the EEAS to coop­er­ate with exter­nal judi­cial insti­tu­tions such as the International Criminal Court, the European Court of Human Rights, the Inter-American Court of Human Rights, the African Court on Human and Peoples’ Rights and oth­er ad hoc tri­bunals, UN-assist­ed tri­bunals and oth­er bod­ies, includ­ing the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights and inter­na­tion­al super­vi­so­ry and mon­i­tor­ing bod­ies, the Organization for Security and Co-oper­a­tion in Europe, NATO, and the Council of Europe, with the aim of gain­ing evi­dence for impos­ing sanc­tions under the EU GHRSR and deter­ring seri­ous human rights vio­la­tions; calls for the EU to pro­mote the rat­i­fi­ca­tion of the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court by every coun­try in the world;

19.  Reiterates that crim­i­nal pros­e­cu­tion of the per­pe­tra­tors of gross human rights vio­la­tions and atroc­i­ty crimes through domes­tic or inter­na­tion­al juris­dic­tions should remain the pri­ma­ry objec­tive of all efforts under­tak­en by the EU and its Member States to com­bat impuni­ty; reit­er­ates the impor­tance of the prin­ci­ple of uni­ver­sal juris­dic­tion in this regard and wel­comes the recent judi­cial pro­ceed­ings under this prin­ci­ple in a num­ber of Member States;

20.  Underlines the impor­tance of EU can­di­date coun­tries and poten­tial can­di­date coun­tries align­ing with the EU GHRSR, in line with their broad­er align­ment with the EU’s CFSP;

21.  Instructs its President to for­ward this res­o­lu­tion to the Council, the Commission and the Vice-President of the Commission / High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy.

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