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Date With The Nation: Rule of Law Versus Treasury Department Sanctions

With D. Wa Hne, Jr.

The 2016 Global Magnitsky Human Rights and Accountability Act has become America’s latest strategy to police powerful nations as well as third-world countries and to exert pressure on those nations whose smooth existence is dependent on America through various interests.

The Glo-Mag, as it is popularly called, deals with powerful individuals who exist above the laws of their nations, particularly governments and their officials. The Act is specifically intended to strengthen democracies around the world, arrest human rights violations and abuses, ensure human rights protection, and build accountable economies and governance systems around the world that will translate into realistic life changing services to the people as well as developing social and political structures that will transform the lives of citizens from poverty and oppression. In other words, it fights against corrupt systems that enslaves the people and places halt to human rights abuses.

This Act was originally called the Russia and Moldova-Vanik Repeal and Sergei Magnitsky Rule of Law Accountability Act of 2012. It was passed by Congress with the support of both Republican and Democrat Congress men and women and signed into law by Barack Obama to deal a severe blow on Russian officials for the death of Sergei Magnitsky who died in prison in Moscow for exposing corruption in Russia. About 18 officials of Russia were sanctioned. They were the first victim of the Act. Global Magnitsky has since become a laudable Act; but it is fast becoming a controversial weaponized political instrument that is being exploited by politicians and advocates who are on self- aggrandizing political missions.

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In pursuant to provisions of the UN which calls for respect for the sovereignty of nations, Global Magnitsky does not super-cede the domestic laws of foreign nations, nor can it contest against the legal domestic systems and processes of foreign governments.

The Magnitsky sanctions can be placed on individuals, yet their constitutional rights cannot be infringed upon in their countries. It is against this background that the right to participate in electoral processes was granted to individuals sanctioned under the Glo-Mag Act. The people’s franchise cannot be infringed upon by the Act.

However, the Glo-Mag Sanction itself is scarring and could lead to political and economic problems for nations that decide to ignore it. Those who support sanctioned individuals could also be affected and that includes the government.

The Glo-Mag has the potentials of producing inefficiencies, lack of productivity, and freezing political influences.  It has the power of seizures of properties and freezing of accounts of individuals in the USA and other countries under the Glo-Mag sanctions. It can mount pressure on home governments of individuals within its grip to freeze accounts and seize properties. Glo-Mag can further cage its victims in dark cells depending on home governments’ position.

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The Global Magnitsky Sanction is not an indictment, but a conviction in nature. The Treasury Department passes a guilty verdict and impose sentences on individuals. Its adjudication processes are unknown. Its pieces of evidence that lead to conviction are unknown. How they gather their information, from whom they obtain them, how they process them, and why due process seems to be absent in conviction cases are questions being asked.

American democracy and justice systems emphasized the fundamental rights of individuals and the right to trial, the right to confront their accusers, and the right to be represented by counsel in a court of law. Noting their strict adherence to these, fundamental questions are being asked.

How were the accused convicted under the Glo-Mag Act; through which process,  and from which platform or forum were they convicted?  Was the rule of law applied? Who are their direct accusers? These questions require answers.  A nation such as the United States that is the leader of democracy and the rule of law is expected, in whatever case, to apply the rule of law.

In the Republic of Liberia, we listened to politicians discussions on how they lobbied for sanctions to be imposed on their opponents. Were the recent sanctions placed on officials of the Weah’s Government the result of politicians lobbies with Congressmen?

For Example, Senator Prince Y. Johnson was sanctioned for play for pay and convicted for monies allegedly received from ministries. What are the pieces of evidence? Did he have authority over those ministries? How did he gain access?

Nathaniel McGill was accused of receiving bribes, and by-passing the Public Procurement and Concession processes in awarding contracts. What are the pieces of evidence? Bill Twehway was also convicted and sanctioned for corruption. These men want to challenge Glo-Mag but cannot do so locally or in the USA because they have no evidence to confront nor can they enter the USA.

The outspoken President Pro-Tempore of the Senate Albert Chea who stood against the US Embassy for going beyond its diplomatic scope has now been sanctioned for allegedly receiving bribes to pass legislations and has been further linked to minerals corruption. What are the pieces of evidence? Liberia’s Finance Minister Samuel Tweah has fallen under the ax of Glo-Mag for significant corruption also. Why now at the end of CDC Administration? Jefferson Koijee, the youngest of all, is sanctioned for corruption and human rights abuses at the end of Weah’s reign.

These are all powerful Liberian politicians. While some Liberians are thankful for Glo-Mag’s intervention,  while others think the Treasury Department needs to give these guys due processes to defend themselves and prove to the world that indeed they are not who Magnitsky says they are.

Many Liberians are interested in their cases as the sanctions involve the people’s resources and taxes.  We as a pro-American who would at any given time boast of American Democracy and Justice System are calling upon the Treasury Department to please publish all pieces of evidence that were used to sanction these individuals. Let them be provided the opportunity to exonerate themselves. 

Let the laudable Glo-Mag be free from suspicion and internal Liberia political manipulations by political opponents. Sadly, these sanctions are being implemented at a time that the world is giving President Weah a standing ovation and being awarded peace prizes for his democratic posture that is rare in Africa. Are these sanctions designed to undermine his gains?

As we applaud the USA for its fight against corruption and human rights abuses around the world, there are conspiracy theorists who seem to believe that Hon. Albert Chea’s placement under sanction is not a surprise as they expected Magnitsky would be used against him as a political tool to stop his reelection as Senate President Pro-Tempore because of his boldness to take on the former US Ambassador in strong worded statement.  We asked, Is Hon. Chea a victim of exercising his rights to free speech?

Nevertheless, let it sink that Global Magnitsky is not for one administration. The Sanctions should not therefore be viewed as targeting CDC Government in favor of the incoming; but as a warning to governments and officials of government that Global Magnitsky is in full swing with invisible eyes. It indicts and convicts without due process.

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