With the sanctions on Russia, the new regulatory instrument of the European Union begins: the Global Human Rights Sanctions Regime

(To Avv. Marco Valerio Verni)
04/05/21

The recent sanctions adopted by the European Union against Russia (those of 2 March, against four officials close to President Putin and linked to the case of the Russian dissident Alexei Navalny, whose release Brussels is asking for, and those of 22 March against of two Russians accused of persecuting LGBT activists in Chechnya: to them, as is well known, the government of Moscow has, in turn, reacted by forbidding the president of the European Parliament, David Sassoli, and the vice-president to enter their country of the EU Commission, Vera Jourová - who, moreover, has the delegation to Values ​​and Transparency -, as well as six other officials from the EU and from EU countries) find their legal basis in Global Human Rights Sanctions Regime (EUGHRSR) who, on this occasion, can well be said to have received his "baptism of fire".

This regulatory framework, in fact, was adopted by the European Union on 7 December last year, just before the international human rights day (10 December) with the Decision (CFSP - common foreign and security policy) 2020/1999 and the Regulation 2020/1998.

Also known as the "European Magnitsky Act", along the lines of the one passed by the US Congress in 20121, at the time of the presidency of Barack Obama, which then evolved, in 2016, with the "Global Magnistky Human Rights Accountability Act"2, it finds its raison d'etre in the protection of the fundamental values ​​of the European Union, such as respect for human dignity, freedom, democracy, equality, the rule of law and respect for human rights3.

Through it, the European Union can, in summary, implement targeted measures against persons, entities and organisms - including state and non-state entities - responsible for serious human rights violations and abuses around the world, regardless of where they occur, or involved in such acts or their associates. In particular, the criminal actions that, in this way, it is intended to counter, are those relating to it4:



a)

to genocide;



b)

crimes against humanity;



c)

the following serious human rights violations or abuses:



I)

torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment;



II)

slavery;



I

extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions and killings;



I

forced disappearance of people;



V)

arbitrary arrests or detentions;



d)

other violations or other abuses of human rights, including but not limited to those listed below, to the extent that such violations or abuses are widespread, systematic or otherwise cause serious concern with respect to the objectives of the common foreign and security policy established in Article 21 TEU (Treaty on European Union):



I)

trafficking in human beings, as well as human rights abuses referred to in this article by migrant smugglers;



II)

sexual and gender-based violence;



I

violations or abuses of the freedom of peaceful assembly and association,



I

violations or abuses of freedom of opinion and expression,



V)

violations or abuses of freedom of religion or belief.

The Council of the European Union is called upon to decide on everything, on the proposal of a member state or the high representative5, taking into account customary international law and widely accepted international law instruments such as6:



a)

the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights;



b)

the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights;



c)

the Convention for the Prevention and Suppression of the Crime of Genocide;



d)

the Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment;



e)

the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination;



f)

the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women;



g)

the Convention on the Rights of the Child;



h)

the International Convention for the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearance;



i)

the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities;



j)

the Additional Protocol to the United Nations Convention Against Transnational Organized Crime to Prevent, Suppress and Punish Trafficking in Persons, in particular Women and Children;



k)

the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court;



l)

the European Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms.

Of course, there are several scenarios that could be opened by applying this sanctioning system: in fact, there are various situations that, regarding very serious violations of human rights, come to mind: first of all, for what concerns us more closely, the case of Giulio Regeni, an Italian citizen arbitrarily arrested and tortured in Egypt.

Who knows if our government, also strengthened by the new leadership led by Mario Draghi, will have the intention of turning to Brussels to promote the defense of Italians in the world and, through it, that of the aforementioned values.

1 The Magnitsky Act approved in the United States in 2012 originates from the death in prison in 2009 of the Russian lawyer Sergei Magnitsky, in extremely suspicious circumstances, after having suffered several abuses and after being deprived of medical assistance.

In 2007-2008, he had publicly denounced a large-scale tax fraud in his country, which involved magistrates, police officers, tax inspectors, bankers and criminal organizations of the mafia type. Following his denunciations, he was arrested and, after eleven months of detention (without trial and under very harsh conditions), he died in a Moscow prison at the age of 37. Following this, the American entrepreneur William Browder, his client, put in place a campaign to impose targeted sanctions against the officials involved, aimed at preventing them from entering the US territory and excluding them from the American economic-financial system.

2 This act also allowed the United States Government to sanction individuals responsible for serious violations of human rights and acts of corruption, regardless of where they were committed.

3 See par. 1 of the "Council Decision (CFSP) 2020/1999 of 7 December 2020 concerning restrictive measures against serious violations and abuses of human rights", according to which "The Union is founded on the values ​​of respect for human dignity, freedom, democracy, equality, the rule of law and respect for human rights and is committed to protecting these values, which play a key role in ensuring peace. and sustainable security, cornerstones of its external action".

4 See art. 1 of the CFSP decision and art. 2 of the "Council Regulation (EU) 2020/1998 of 7 December 2020 on restrictive measures against serious violations and abuses of human rights".

5 See art. 5 of the "Council Decision (CFSP) 2020/1999 of 7 December 2020 concerning restrictive measures against serious violations and abuses of human rights": "1. The Council, acting unanimously on a proposal from a Member State or the High Representative, draws up and modifies the list set out in the Annex. 2. The Council shall communicate the decisions referred to in paragraph 1, including the reasons for listing, to the natural or legal person, entity or body concerned directly, if the address is known, or by publication of a notice, offering the natural or legal person, entity or body in question the opportunity to comment. 3. Where observations are made or substantial new evidence is presented, the Council shall review the decisions referred to in paragraph 1 and inform the natural or legal person, entity or body concerned accordingly.".

6 See art. 1.2 of the “Council Decision (CFSP) 2020/1999 of 7 December 2020 concerning restrictive measures against serious violations and abuses of human rights” and art. 2.2 of the "Council Regulation (EU) 2020/1998 of 7 December 2020 on restrictive measures against serious violations and abuses of human rights", already mentioned.

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