European Union ambassadors on December 2 gave their green light to establish a sanctions regime that would target human rights violators worldwide.
The EU’s 27 foreign ministers are set to rubber stamp the decision when they meet on December 7, and the new mechanism is expected to officially enter into force on Human Rights Day on December 10.
Several EU officials familiar with the matter said no individuals or entities will be sanctioned immediately, but names could be put on the blacklist as early as the beginning of 2021.
The sanctions will consist of asset freezes and visa bans and can be applied to both state and non-state actors.
According to a working document seen by RFE/RL, the sanctions will target individuals and entities deemed responsible for acts of genocide, crimes against humanity, torture, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment, slavery, extrajudicial, summary, or arbitrary executions and killings, enforced disappearance of persons, and arbitrary arrests or detentions.
It can also be imposed on those involved in human trafficking, sexual and gender-based violence, violations or abuses of freedom of peaceful assembly, association, opinion, and religion -- if the abuses are considered “widespread and systematic.”
The sanctions regime is similar to the Magnitsky Act passed by the United States in 2012.
The U.S. legislation initially targeted Russian officials but later included individuals from other nations.
Sergei Magnitsky was a whistleblower who accused a group of Russian law-enforcement officers and officials of stealing the equivalent of about $230 million from the state through fraudulent tax refunds. He died in a Moscow prison in 2009.