In a joint letter to Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and Secretary of the Treasury Steven Mnuchin, a coalition of 23 human rights and anti-corruption groups, including the Enough Project, called on the U.S. government to robustly implement the Global Magnitsky Human Rights Accountability Act. The Global Magnitsky Act authorizes the President of the United States to impose financial sanctions and visa restrictions on non-U.S. officials guilty of corruption or gross human rights violations perpetrated against whistleblowers, journalists, and human rights defenders.
The Act positions the United States to take a leading role in combating grand corruption and impunity as well as protecting human rights defenders worldwide. But, as the letter states, “Global Magnitsky’s promise will only be realized, however, if the U.S. government acts.”
The letter highlights 15 cases from across the world that the groups believe satisfy the Act’s stringent requirements and are deserving of rigorous investigation by the U.S. government. The highlighted cases were developed by the coalition and include one from the Democratic Republic of Congo, an area of focus for the Enough Project and its investigative initiative, The Sentry.
Read the case details below of Congo’s Francis Selemani Mtwale, highlighted in the letter:
Francis Selemani Mtwale (known as Selemani), is the Managing Director of Banque Gabonaise et Francaise Internationale (BGFI) in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC). He is also the adopted brother of DRC President Joseph Kabila. Selemani is responsible for diverting significant amounts of public funds via multiple transactions from the DRC for the private gain of himself and President Kabila and his family. For example, according to media and other reporting, under Selemani, the Central Bank of the Congo, the DRC’s national bank, was instructed to “loan” $43 million to a company partly owned by Selemani, which was then deposited into an account at BGFI. When an external auditor hired by BGFI’s Gabonese parent company questioned Selemani about that transaction, Selemani showed the employee a pistol, and made threatening remarks. Additional evidence exists demonstrating other questionable and suspicious transactions being routed through BGFI accounts by DRC government officials and members of President Kabila’s family.
Click here to read the joint letter.