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World

September 14, 2017

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HR groups target police, spy chiefs

HR groups target police, spy chiefs

PRAGUE/WASHINGTON: Police and spy chiefs from China to the Middle East, a Ukrainian oligarch and a former president of Panama are among the people a coalition of human rights groups wants targeted for sanctions under an expanded US law aimed at curbing rights abuses and corruption worldwide.

The coalition, in documents to be made public on Wednesday, submitted 15 cases to the US State Department and US Treasury, urging them to investigate using the law, called the Global Magnitsky Act.

The law, which then-President Barack Obama signed in December 2016, expands the scope of 2012 legislation that froze the assets of Russian officials and banned them from traveling to the United States because of their links to the 2009 death in prison of a whistleblower, Sergey Magnitsky.

"The cases we have elected to highlight come from every region of the world, and involve horrific stories of torture, enforced disappearance, murder, sexual assault, extortion and bribery," the coalition of 23 groups said in a letter to US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and US Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin.

The groups said their information came from first-hand accounts of victims and their attorneys, investigative journalism and reports by non-governmental organisations (NGOs). Police chiefs, public prosecutors and heads of security services in Bahrain, China, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Mexico and Central Asian countries where prisoners were tortured, executed or died in custody are on the list compiled by the groups, which are coordinated by Washington-based Human Rights First.

Among them are Chinese Deputy Minister of Public Security Fu Zhenghua and Beijing’s Municipal Public Security Bureau deputy head Tao Jing. The groups accuse the two officials of bearing "command responsibility" for actions of forces under their control in the torture and 2014 death of human rights activist Cao Shunli. —

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