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In a March 28, 2018 letter to the Deputy Secretary of State, a bipartisan group of 57 members of Congress expressed “grave concern,” following the partial lifting in late 2017 of U.S. sanctions against the Sudan, “about any U.S. policy that might result in further normalizing relations with a regime that routinely violates its citizens’ basic human rights, continues to support extremists and extremist groups, represses religious minorities, and steals the nation’s wealth while most of its people live in poverty.”

The letter relays the Congress members’ views as to the human rights and corruption situations in the Sudan. Regarding corruption, the letter states that “[c]orruption and mismanagement by the Sudanese regime has impoverished Sudan, with only a few wealthy and connected insiders amassing immense wealth.” Notably, the letter identifies “extractive industries and natural resource wealth” as sources of government officials’ personal enrichment at the expense of the Sudanese people.

The Congress members urged the State Department and other Executive Branch agencies (unspecified) to “develop transformational human rights and social and political benchmarks . . . tied to real incentives, combined with meaningful new financial pressures, such as network sanctions and anti-money laundering measures that target those most responsible for violence and corruption in Sudan.” (The term “network sanctions” is not one that, to the author’s knowledge, appears in any U.S. government sanctions program (e.g., OFAC-administered sanctions) or is used generally in sanctions practice; “network sanctions” appears to be a term used by an organization, the Enough Project, to refer to sanctions that target “not just a few individuals for sanctions, but also their business associates, facilitators, and the companies they own or control.” It is noteworthy that the 57 Congress members used the same language in the March 28, 2018 letter).

As to specific corruption and human rights “benchmarks” for “targeting individuals and entities engaged in continuing corruption and human rights abuses” in the Sudan, the Congress members suggested that the Trump Administration incorporate the provisions of Presidential Executive Order 13818 (EO 13818), which in part implemented the Global Magnitsky Act and promulgated the Global Magnitsky Sanctions, a broad and assertive corruption and human rights sanctions framework that applies globally to current and former foreign government officials, a wide range of foreign private parties, and, to a lesser extent, to U.S. persons.

The Global Magnitsky framework is also notable here because the Global Magnitsky Act expressly carves out roles in the sanctions designation process for Congress, the State Department, NGOs, and other countries. In this context, a letter from Congress members to the State Department urging the adoption of the Global Magnitsky Sanctions framework may have more resonance. Moreover, under both the Global Magnitsky Act and EO 13818, corruption in connection with the extraction of natural resources is specifically covered and sanctionable. And, the Trump Administration has separately called out and targeted corruption in the extractives industries in Africa. Just three days before EO 13818 was issued, the Trump Administration released the U.S. National Security Strategy that expressly targets corruption (and Chinese dominance) in Africa, with a particular focus on the extractives industries and natural resources. Accordingly, the Congress members’ reference to official corruption in the Sudan’s extractives industry and natural resources is potentially substantively significant as it tracks primary areas of concern to the Trump Administration and under the Global Magnitsky Sanctions.

Recognizing the Trump Administration’s (assumed) interest in continuing anti-terrorism cooperation with the Sudanese government, the letter states that the counter-terrorism value provided by Sudan’s government “should be evaluated in the context of the regime’s historical support for extremist groups and terrorism, as well as its current tolerance of extremist groups and clerics that promote hate, both internationally and against religious minorities in Sudan.”

As stated in a prior MassPoint Magnitsky Sanctions piece, 52 individuals and entities have been sanctioned pursuant to EO 13818. Given the scale and scope of the Global Magnitsky Sanctions, any number of current and former government officials and private parties could be subjected to sanctions scrutiny or measures.

How the Trump Administration implements the sanctions– in particular cases or programmatically– remains to be seen. In the meantime, and in light of the Global Magnitsky Sanctions’ scope and power, as well as the roles given by the Global Magnitsky Act to NGOs and others, it should be expected that members of Congress, NGOs and other parties will urge the application of Global Magnitsky Sanctions measures or standards against or in connection with specific countries, foreign governments and/or persons.

Source: March 28, 2018 Letter from Congress Members to Deputy Secretary of State Re: Sudan 

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