Democratic values and human rights are under threat around the world. Human rights defenders, members of civil society groups, journalists, and ordinary people seeking to exercise their rights to freedom of expression and peaceful assembly face threats of violent repression from authoritarian leaders.
Allowing this activity to continue unchallenged not only abandons victims of human rights abuses, but also poses a direct threat to the national security of the United States. Countries with repressive political regimes are often unstable over the long term, and they export instability regionally and worldwide. These regimes are often a threat to the peace and security of other nations. Standing up for human rights is not only consistent with American values but also supports stability and prosperity.
That’s why the Department of the Treasury, in consultation with the State Department, designated two senior Syrian Air Force officers involved in the killing of civilians in chemical weapons attacks and three senior officers in Syria’s repressive security and intelligence apparatus. The organizations they are associated with have imprisoned hundreds of thousands of Syrians, including those who peacefully called for change. Moreover, human rights organizations reported that at least 14,000 prisoners in Syria have died as a result of torture. These designations are another critical step in promoting accountability for the Assad regime’s abuse against Syrians.
Additionally, the Department of the Treasury sanctioned seven Iranian individuals and two law enforcement entities in connection with their roles in the violent suppression of protests in November 2019. The Treasury Department also announced sanctions against the commander of the Ugandan Chieftaincy of Military Intelligence (CMI) Major General Abel Kandiho in connection with serious human rights abuse.
Secretary of State Antony Blinken in a statement hailed these designations, which include individuals previously sanctioned by the European Union, for bringing the United States into closer alignment with allies, “reflecting our shared commitment to promoting democracy and respect for human rights.”
The United States is committed to promoting democracy and accountability for those who abuse human rights around the world. Secretary Blinken said, “We will continue to stand in solidarity with the people of these countries and others where abuses and violations of human rights continue to occur.”