The United States is marking Human Rights Day and the 75th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights on December 10th by taking actions to promote accountability for human rights abuses and violations.  Together, the Departments of State and the Treasury today have imposed visa restrictions and sanctions on 37 individuals in 13 countries.

With today’s actions, the United States is addressing some of the most challenging and harmful forms of human rights abuses in the world, including those involving conflict-related sexual violence, forced labor, and transnational repression.  Our actions promote accountability for these heinous acts, especially in environments with poor adherence to the rule of law, and support members of vulnerable and marginalized populations including political dissidents, women, civil society leaders and activists, LGBTQI+ persons, and human rights defenders and environmental activists targeted by repressive governments.

Many of today’s designations target individuals responsible for gender-based violence and the repression of women and girls globally, including county commissioners and a governor in South Sudan whose forces and militias are responsible for rape and Taliban leaders connected to restrictions on access to secondary education for women and Presidential Memorandum  issued by President Biden last year, which strengthens the use of financial, diplomatic, and legal tools to combat it.

The Iranian regime continues to be one of the worst human rights offenders both at home and abroad.  Its abuses include the repression of dissidents and peaceful protestors through lethal force, arbitrary detention, and torture as well as the targeting of dissidents abroad through surveillance, intimidation, and lethal plotting.  The United States today designated two Iranian intelligence officers involved in recruiting individuals to plot against regime opponents in the United States, including current and former U.S. Government officials, as well as surveillance activities focused on religious sites, businesses, and other facilities.

Additionally, the Department of State today issued the Uyghur Human Rights Policy Act (UHRPA) Report to Congress, while Treasury is sanctioning two People’s Republic of China (PRC) government officials, including one under UHRPA, for their connection to serious human rights abuses in Xinjiang.  Concurrently, the Department of Homeland Security-led interagency Forced Labor Enforcement Task Force is announcing the addition of three PRC entities to the Uyghur Forced Labor Prevention Act Entity List.

We are also revising, expanding, and issuing visa restriction policies for Zimbabwe, Syria, and Uganda to promote accountability for government officials and others involved in repression, human rights abuses, and other unacceptable acts.  In addition, earlier this week, I determined that members of the Sudanese Armed Forces and Sudan’s Rapid Support Forces (RSF) have committed war crimes, and that members of the RSF and allied militias have committed crimes against humanity and ethnic cleansing in Darfur.

Finally, to reinforce the impact of our designations today of four criminal gang leaders in Haiti involved in human rights abuses, including sexual violence, and of five DRC armed group leaders, we nominated these individuals for UN Security Council designations.  The designations of Haitian criminal gang leaders complement previous U.S. government efforts to disrupt criminal activity in Haiti, including a State Department Transnational Organized Crime Rewards Program reward offer of up to $1 million and $2 million for information leading to the arrest and/or conviction of Joseph Wilson and Vitel’homme Innocent, respectively.

Our actions to promote respect for human rights are stronger and more durable when done in concert with allies committed to the international rules-based order.  We are taking our sanctions actions today in coordination with the United Kingdom and with Canada, each of which has taken similar measures to deter human rights abuses globally. The United States will continue to use all available tools to promote accountability and signal our strong support for human rights and fundamental freedoms.

The Department of State imposed visa restrictions pursuant to Section 7031(c) of the Department of State, Foreign Operations, and Related Programs Appropriations Act, 2023 (Div. K, P.L. 117-328), as carried forward by the Continuing Appropriations Act, 2024 (Div. A, P.L. 118-15) and pursuant to Section 212(a)(3)(C) of the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA), as well as designations pursuant to Executive Order 13224.  The Department of the Treasury actions were taken pursuant to Executive Order 13818, which builds upon and implements the Global Magnitsky Human Rights Accountability Act, UHRPA, as well as other sanctions authorities.  For more information, see the Department of State’s Report to Congress on the Imposition of Sanctions Pursuant to Section 6(a) of the UHRPA of 2020, P.L. 116-145 and fact sheet, Treasury’s press release, and the Department of Homeland Security press release.

U.S. Department of State

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