On Tuesday, the Foreign Affairs Committee adopted a resolution welcoming the EU Global Human Rights Sanctions Regime while calling for corruption to be included as a punishable offense.

Corruption has a devastating impact on the state of human rights, and often undermines the functioning and legitimacy of institutions and the rule of law, the resolution states. But unlike similar schemes around the world, such as the US Global Magnitsky Act, the current EU Global Human Rights Sanctions Regime (GHRSR), adopted in December 2020, does not include corruption in connection with human rights violations as an offense punishable by restrictive measures. Therefore, MEPs urge the European Commission to come forward with a legislative proposal that extends the scope of the GHRSR to cover these crimes.        MEPs should also be able to propose cases of serious human rights violations, in order to increase the legitimacy of the sanctions regime. In addition, Members insist on an inclusive sanctions process to facilitate input from civil society.                                                Qualified majority voting should also be introduced when sanctions are adopted under the scope of the GHRSR, the text urges, as this would implement the regime more effectively.

Counter-sanctions aim to deter the EU from defending human rights

In addition, MEPs condemn any counter-sanctions imposed on the EU, its institutions and Members of Parliament, bodies or citizens, solely for upholding human rights, democracy and the rule of law through the GHRSR. They recall that these retaliatory measures aim to deter the EU from pursuing its global actions to protect human rights in line with its treaty obligations.                                                                                                            Members further underline the need for a swift and coordinated EU response to such retaliatory sanctions by third countries and to ensure that bilateral agreements with these countries do not undermine the EU’s sanctions framework and its credibility in foreign policy in general.                                                                                                                    The text was adopted by 58 votes in favour, 8 against with 3 abstentions.

“The EU Global Human Rights Sanctions Regime adds a direct and tangible way to respond to serious human rights violations and hold those responsible for abuse accountable. It needs to become an essential element of the EU’s broader strategy on human rights and a fundamental part of our external policy toolbox. I welcome the swift implementation of the new instrument and hope that it will support the objectives of the EU’s Common Foreign and Security Policy”, said David McAllister (EPP, Germany), Chair of the Foreign Affairs Committee.                                                                                                             “One of the European Parliament’s longstanding demands, the EU Global Human Rights Sanctions Regime strengthens the EU’s leading role in human rights by allowing us to target persons and entities who are responsible for grave human rights violations, wherever these abuses take place. We are pleased that the Council has put the regime swiftly into use, but would also ask for some improvements. The regime needs to also target economic and financial enablers of human rights abusers, and we need a stronger role both for the European Parliament and civil society, to increase its legitimacy”, said Maria Arena (S&D, Belgium), Chair of the Subcommittee on Human Rights.