US announces slew of sanctions for human rights violations

WASHINGTON, Gretel Johnston (dpa)- The US Treasury Department on Tuesday imposed sanctions against 20 people in eight countries for their roles in serious human rights abuse.
The targets of the sanctions include government officials and businessmen in Myanmar, Pakistan, Libya, Slovakia, Congo, South Sudan, Saudi Arabia and Russia. Six entities owned or controlled by the named individuals also were sanctioned.

The department said the actions are designed to impose "significant and tangible consequences" on people who engage in and profit from serious human rights abuse.
Among the people sanctioned are Mohammed al Otaibi, former consul general of Saudi Arabia in Istanbul, Turkey, for his involvement in "gross violations of human rights, namely the murder of Jamal Khashoggi."
Al Otaibi was previously sanctioned under the Global Magnitsky Act, the department noted in a news release. The sanctions added on Tuesday fall under a separate act and bar him from entering the United States.
The Trump administration has come under criticism for maintaining close relations with Saudi Arabia despite the Khashoggi murder. But the administration has imposed various sanctions on Saudis believed to have been involved in the October 2018 killing of Khashoggi.
Other individuals named are military leaders in Myanmar responsible for killing ethnic Rohingyas, a senior superintendent of police in Pakistan who committed extrajudicial killings of civilians and a Libyan military commander who carried out mass executions of unarmed detainees.
The announcement coincides with the anniversary of the adoption of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights at the United Nations in 1948.
US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo in a statement called out China, Venezuela, Syria and Iran for human rights abuses. Regimes in those countries "commit gross human rights violations every day that shock the conscience," he said.
The Chinese government continues to repress members of religious and ethnic minority groups in Xinjiang, Tibet and elsewhere, he said, adding that China continues to undermine the freedoms guaranteed to people in Hong Kon.
"In order for countries such as China, Iran, Syria, and Venezuela to regain moral authority in the eyes of freedom-loving nations, they must rededicate themselves to protecting human rights and fundamental freedoms."

Wednesday, December 11th 2019
Gretel Johnston (dpa)

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