Connolly Leads Bipartisan Letter to Trump on Crimea Human Rights in Advance of G20 Visit

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Washington, July 5, 2017 | comments

In advance of President Trump’s G20 visit, Congressman Gerry Connolly (D-VA) led a bipartisan letter urging the Trump administration to review a list of judges for human rights violations and possible sanctions. The letter was signed by Representatives Chabot, Deutch, Engel, Harris, Kaptur, Kelly, Meeks and Sires.

In their letter the Members wrote that, “Over the past three years, Russian officials have executed a brutal crackdown on basic liberties in Crimea. Russia has subjected Crimeans who refuse Russian citizenship to discrimination in accessing education, health care, and employment. Russian authorities in Crimea have repressed a variety of freedoms, such as travel and independent media.”

“These violations include unlawful detentions, torture, media repression, and prosecution for peaceful assembly and freedom of expression,” the Members added. “We urge you to carefully review the attached list of judges, who have delivered judgements in politically motivated criminal and administrative cases. These judges have potentially discriminated against citizens of Ukraine due to their political or religious beliefs, or for exercising their rights to freedom of expression and peaceful assembly.”

“The United States must demonstrate leadership in refusing to recognize or legitimize Russia’s illegal and forcible annexation of Crimea,” the Members wrote. “Denying Ukrainian citizens of their rights to free expression, peaceful assembly, or independent media is not only a violation of Ukrainian sovereignty, but also a deprivation of basic human rights. The United States should elevate its pressure on Putin’s repressive regime by identifying and imposing sanctions against those officials complicit in committing grave human rights abuses in Crimea.”

In their letter, the Representatives note that the Global Magnitsky Human Rights Accountability Act authorizes the President to impose sanctions on foreign persons that the President determines have committed gross violations of internationally recognized human rights.

The full letter follows. The signed letter and list of judges is available here.



June 30, 2017

 

The President
The White House
Washington, DC 20500

 

Dear Mr. President,

We write to urge you to review the attached list of judges for possible designation as human rights abusers and to apply sanctions against those designated foreign persons under authorities granted by the Global Magnitsky Human Rights Accountability Act of 2017 (P.L. 114-328).

In March 2014, Russia illegally invaded and subsequently annexed the Ukrainian province of Crimea. Over the past three years, Russian officials have executed a brutal crackdown on basic liberties in Crimea. Russia has subjected Crimeans who refuse Russian citizenship to discrimination in accessing education, health care, and employment. Russian authorities in Crimea have repressed a variety of freedoms, such as travel and independent media. One Ukrainian journalist, Mykola Semena, was charged under the Russian criminal code for allegedly violating Russia’s territorial integrity by expressing the view that Crimea is Ukrainian territory. Semena is currently on trial for inciting separatism and faces up to five years in prison.

The United States announced sanctions in response to Russia’s illegal annexation of Crimea in 2014. In March 2017, we welcomed the State Department’s affirmation that “Our Crimea-related sanctions will remain in place until Russia returns control of the peninsula to Ukraine.” On June 20, 2017, the Treasury Department announced additional sanctions against more than three dozen individuals and entities operating in Crimea. We applaud these efforts to maintain pressure on Putin. However, no one in Crimea has been held accountable for ongoing human rights violations. 

On December 23, 2016, the Global Magnitsky Human Rights Accountability Act was enacted as part of the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2017 (P.L. 114-328). This legislation authorizes the President to impose sanctions on foreign persons that the President determines have committed gross violations of internationally recognized human rights.

According to the Crimean Human Rights Group (CHRG), dozens of Russian and Crimean officials have committed or facilitated human rights abuses against citizens of Ukraine. These violations include unlawful detentions, torture, media repression, and prosecution for peaceful assembly and freedom of expression. We urge you to carefully review the attached list of judges, who have delivered judgements in politically motivated criminal and administrative cases. These judges have potentially discriminated against citizens of Ukraine due to their political or religious beliefs, or for exercising their rights to freedom of expression and peaceful assembly.

The United States must demonstrate leadership in refusing to recognize or legitimize Russia’s illegal and forcible annexation of Crimea. Denying Ukrainian citizens of their rights to free expression, peaceful assembly, or independent media is not only a violation of Ukrainian sovereignty, but also a deprivation of basic human rights. The United States should elevate its pressure on Putin’s repressive regime by identifying and imposing sanctions against those officials complicit in committing grave human rights abuses in Crimea.

                                                                                                Best Regards,


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