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tv   Natl Press Club Discussion on Protecting Journalists  CSPAN  February 14, 2019 6:05pm-7:34pm EST

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>> reporters and lawmakers discussed human rights sanctions to protect journalists. they talked about the international community has responded to attacks by the russian and saudi arabian governments. this is an hour and a half. from the national press >> are we ready? >> welcome everyone. we are very happy to have you here. this is the first of end of 2019, the national press club journalism institute. i'm the new executive director of the institute which advances press freedom and grows journalism in the public interest. welcome to our analyst, we are thrilled you are here. and welcome to everyone who is
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watching on c-span and others who are broadcasting the event. where happy to have you join us and we are happy to have everyone in the room and thrilled to be partnering for this event with the clubs press freedom team led in part by rachel oswald who covers foreign policy for cq and is also the organizer of this panel and will be moderating. let's turn over to rachel to get started. >> thank you so much for that introduction. and thank you everyone here for taking the time out of your business okay to travel here in the cold rain. i expect this to be a very thought-provoking and enlivening discussion. reassembled a all-star panel to educate us on this new policy area of humans-human rights sanctions and how they protect journals run the rope. to my immediate left is
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representative tom mello. use elected in november to the house representatives as a democrat from new jersey. prior to that, he had a long background in human rights advocacy including holding senior positions and in the clinton and obama administrations. his most recent posting was the assistant secretary of state for democracy, human rights and labor. more recently, he was appointed to the house foreign affairs committee where he has proved and enlivening presence on the panel. last week, i was, i was delighted about this a special policy discussion which the congressman shared some of his experience working at the state department and what it was like in trying to persuade saudi arabia to do more to mitigate the loss of civilian life. to my immediate right is rob bergen. he works at human rights first
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as a senior vice president for policy. he previously worked underneath the congressman where he was a deputy assistant secretary of state for human rights focusing on europe and eurasia. he now works human rate-rights advocate in the nonprofit sector. he works to mobilize the community around the world and western governments about the effective use of sanctions. to my far left we have dr. courtney reddish. she is the rector of advocacy at the committee to protect journalists were in addition to working to ensure justice for khashoggi will hear about later, she advocates for the safety and freedom from harassment, prisma and, torture and murder of hundreds of journals run the world many who are working in developing countries for the freedom of the press which is often times disregarded. thank you all for joining us.
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many of you here today are familiar with the case of saudi journalist jamal khashoggi. a washington post, last who was assassinated in the study consulate in october by saudi government agents. will be talking about that case, recent new development from friday related to it and its a vocation for bob-broader press freedom. i thought it would be good idea if we got the history about this underlying body of evolving human rights law that is enable public scrutiny around the khashoggi case and congressional involvement that would likely otherwise be not occurring. so, congressman, one of the reason i was keen to have you on this panel was because of your unique history as both a policy implementor at the state department, your involvement as the first 2012-and then implemented and now, you crossing the aisle to work as a politician with oversight of
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the sanctions. could you talk a little bit about what it was like in 2012 as lawmakers were speaking about how they wanted to bring increased accountability to the case of-maybe some of the conversations that took place between the executive branch and congress? what it was like to be one of the first implement that law after it was enacted? but sure, thank you rachel for bringing us together. i will speak a little bit about the history and will talk about current cases. i'm glad you're here, courtney, to talk about the application of this law now, potentially in saudi arabia. the magnitski act was named after a russian lawyer name surge a main thing ski. i think we should start there if you want to talk about the
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history. he was a lawyer, in the course of his work, uncovered a significant corruption scandal. this involved individuals in the russian government taking over a private company and arranging fake tax returns, tax refunds to go to that company which they pocketed themselves. he expose this and for that he was imprisoned and tortured and ultimately died in prison because of his mistreatment. he was not the first or sadly last victim of political oppression in vladimir putin's rush oh. but it was a case, for number of reasons, attracted a tremendous amount of attention from inside and outside the country. it was so brazen that the russian state would persecute someone who, in effect, had uncovered a crime against the
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russian state. an active corruption the cost the russian state millions and millions of dollars. a campaign was launched in the united states and around the world to seek justice for mr. manton an and eventually that campaign settled upon the idea of passing laws in the united states and other countries to require that sanctions be imposed against those responsible. now, in the past when the united states imposed sanctions on human rights violators and and other countries, we had to rely on a law called the international emergency economic powers act, this allowed the president to sanction bad guys in other countries but only if he first signed an executive order declaring a state of emergency existed but, between the united states and the country were
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that bad guy was. if you wanted to sanction a russian citizen for killing a whistle blower, yet the sanction russia. yet to say a state of emergency was existed between the united states and the russians. and made it much more difficult for presidents to act under the magnitsky act, that was not necessary. the president was able to single out individuals who were responsible , not just for the killing of magnitsky , but other human rights crimes in russia and directly sanction them by denying them access to the u.s. banking and financial system. around the time this is being debated, there was also a big push in the u.s. congress to get rid of a law called the jackson panic act which had imposed traits sanctions on russia for this soviet practice
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of denying soviet jews immigrants the right to go to israel. everybody was on board with the idea of limiting the jackson act. since it was the only piece of legislation that addressed a human rights issue a in russia at a time when human invites were getting worse and worse. congress was loath to repeal one piece of human rights legislation unless there was something that could take its place. and the magnitsky act became that something. a modernized, more effective tool for dealing with human rights abuses happening in the
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country at the time. so, the argument prevailed. the act was passed, first the obama administration was like most ministrations, not too happy with congress taking the lead on an issue like that. but ultimately, accepted passage of the act and my job in the state department in the second obama term was to help implement that act, sucking people who would be sanction. then things got really weird. because, when we said this would be an effective way of getting the attention of the prudent regime, about america's concern about human rights, we underestimated the impact it would have. i think, we knew there was polling data in russia that i found very interesting. russians were asked, do you support the idea of foreign countries like the united states punishing russia for human rights abuses?
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the vast majority of people said no. we don't like that idea. america punishing russia for human rights? but if you asked the same people, do you support foreign countries like the united states, the uk, france seizing the assets and property of corrupt people in russia who put their money overseas? human rights abusers, human rights abusers and rush oh took their money and put it overseas buying property on the riviera, secret accounts in the caribbean , shell companies in america, the overwhelming majority of russian said yes, we support that. the magnitsky act was very well calibrated in terms of russian public opinion because it played on the existing strong belief of many people in russia that their leaders were exploiting them, exploiting their power and stealing the
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countries wealth and putting it overseas. so, it made prudent feel vulnerable. the result was a very, very harsh reaction by the prudent regime. first, banning adoptions by americans of russian children. and then, ultimately, i think is now fairly clear that one of the prudent regimes motivation for interfering in the 2016 election was to help elect a president and an administration they hoped that would get rid of the magnitsky act. the rest is history that we know and we are still living. the magnitsky act is not going anywhere. congress has now adopted a global magnitsky act which takes the russian model and
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extends it to every country in the world giving the president the authority, not the obligation, we'll talk about that in a moment. but the authority to impose individualized sanctions on any individual around the world who is responsible for gross human rights abuses and very importantly, for serious acts of corruption. so, we had one waiver these designations on the global magnitsky act under the trump administration. is a fairly robust list of people who are sanctioned in the first wave and are now having a debate about the application of the magnitski act to saudi arabia and put particularly to the khashoggi killing. its profoundly effective and important, particularly if we use this new anticorruption prong of the magnitsky act.
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i think authority being governments around the world are most vulnerable when they go after them for stealing from their people, even more than abusing and oppressing their people. >> you very much, congressman. now rob, since leaving government, you've maintained an active involvement in the magnitsky sanctions and crook for nectars. can you give us an overview of the current global environment and how you see the magnitsky law , specifically impacting press freedom. >> yes, thank you rachel and my thanks as well to the national press club. its tried to say that the panel topic is timely, but in this instance, the panel can be more appropriate. as you mentioned, rachel,
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friday mark the deadline for president trump to report to leaders in the foreign relations committee on the hugh, who the u.s. government believes is it possible for the premeditated murder of khashoggi. president trump declined to make that determination as we'll hear about in more depth. he hid behind a legalistic argument, even though the cia director has already, by all accounts, made it clear to members of congress what the cia believes occurred and who is ultimately responsible. an assessment already reasonably well known to the american people. the khashoggi case capture popular attention for righty reasons. one, i want to focus on is a world leader, in this case the leader of a close partner of the united states, felt emboldened enough by that international environment that you mentioned, rachel, to order
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a hit team to lure a u.s. resident into a diplomatic facility where that individual was okafor aided and chopped into pieces. the message that the murder seems to be designed to convey appears to been directed not just that jamal khashoggi but to a broader audience. it says if you have the temerity to criticize us, or reveal the facts of our brutality or our corruption, will come for you. you're not safe in your home country and you're not safe anywhere. this is the message we're hearing from a number of authoritarian governments. this vision of how the world should work cannot be allowed to take hold. its on a vision of the world that any of us want or can afford to live in. that brings me to the topic of today's conversation, the global magnitsky sanctions for the panacea ?, no they're not.
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they are useful and powerful tool for accountability and also potentially deterrence. right now, the united states finds itself in a strange position. are countries led by president who routinely demonizes the press and frequently declares his affinity for dictators. sayings like the media being the enemy of the people were once associated with terms like stalin. they are now being associated with the oval office. at the same time, president trump's administration has done an altogether not terrible job of implementing the global magnitsky act . a cutting-edge human rights, and a correction sanctions program. part of this, part of the this credit rest with congress which is saying in essence, we give you this tool and we expect you to use it.
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mammy members advocate bringing penalties against wrongdoers, yes, in the case of jamal khashoggi and a instances. part of the credit goes to the state department and officials at the treasury and justice department many of you realize that the magnitsky sanctions provide leverage to achieve u.s. policy aims including the protection of journalists, activists and other populations threatened for their work. finally, part goes to ngo's, members of whom often at great personal risk are doing unheralded work to present the united states government with credible accurate corroborated information and demanding action. as rachel mentioned, my organization, human rights, first is taking a leading role in coordinating and educating activists around the world who want to bring instances of corruption to the attention of the u.s. government in the hope
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that magnitsky sanctions will be levied against these parties. i regularly get asked about magnitsky sanctions. what is the impact? you just heard from the congressman to the extent which those, in case of the earlier russian specific law we had seen tremendous affects. in terms of global magnitsky , is probably little too early to know. one could critique the administrations approach by saying its a bit scattershot. that announces holds across the board and holds with respect to other tool has been used to protect journalists in particular. reporters are not as specified protected class under the magnitsky law itself or is implementing order is issued by the trump administration. but, they do clearly fall under the laws gambit, related to
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four distinct cases, 22 of the administrations 101 designations made have, in some part, explicitly cited violence against journalists. as part of the rationale for the u.s. government imposing the penalty. this includes the 17 saudi nationals sanctioned in november in the khashoggi case as well as individuals in guatemala, nicaragua and gambia. does is track record amount to incredible deterrence? no, my assessment would be it doesn't. but could one envision a track record that does? yes. i think one could be envision. could a future administration bolster the deterrent effect by making clear, publicly and advance, that those responsible for gross violations for those targeting the press, will face consequences for their actions?
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yes. that is conceivable. could a future congress modified the global magnitsky act to mandate such an outcome concerning cases of journalists or other protected classes? yes, conceivably it could. our other national and international jurisdictions adopting similar human rights and anticorruption sanction laws, global magnitsky laws? yes, they are. the progress insulting and slow. but we are seeing that across a number of national and international jurisdictions. and so, to conclude, is the reason for cautious optimism is running this tool and how might be applied? time will tell. it is very early. that global magnitsky has been implemented for about 15 months at this point. but as has been demonstrated, thus far, in the designations made against the 17 saudi nationals today and much of what we'll hear from my
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counterpart, courtney momentarily, if voices from the outside continue to push this tool has incredible potential. thank you. >> thank you, rob for that very informative breakdown. courtney, rob touch on the khashoggi case. can you provide us with some more detail, including about what has happened in the last four months since the october murder and republican-democratic leaders on the four relations committee and the senate house for an affair committee invoked the global magnitsky act to trigger a mandatory government investigation to the killing as well as what the administration did on friday? >> sure, thank you so much. as you mentioned, just as a background, we systematically track all of the killings of journalists and is important to contextualize the murder of khashoggi and the response and the lack of response. in a
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broader background in which we have seen record numbers of journalists killed for the past several years. and, last year, in 2018, there were 53 journalists killed and 34 of those were murdered representing a 88% rise in the number of journalists murdered for their work. so, it is important that we look at the response to what happened to jamal khashoggi who, for a bit of background, was murdered in the saudi embassy in a stumble which means it also brokered international diplomatic norms about safety in conflict. and, from the very outset, we saw that saudi arabia did not talk truthfully, they lied about what happened and that is happen for a period of months. so, we saw, pretty quickly, after the initial disappearance turned into reports about a murder and the gruesome details about what happened to jahmal
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came out. that congress stood up and said , okay we have this tool, the magnitsky act. we are going to trigger a provision that basically says that a competent body like the senate foreign relations committee can trigger that act and send a request to president trump to get his perspective on what happened to jamal khashoggi. was the crown prince responsible and if so, what sort of sanctions should be implemented? again, as mentioned, there is a report by the cia that found the crown prince was involved in the decision to murder washington post columnist jamal khashoggi and more recently the un special operator to the fact- finding mission in turkey and came up with a similar conclusion. so, it was under these auspice is that the senate made this
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request to the trump administration and on friday, the trump administration elected not to respond. there was a letter sent by secretary pompeo, but there is no information in that letter as far as we can tell although they have not made that letter public. we would urge the committee to do so. so, we really don't know what the trump administration is planning to do. now, as i mentioned, there been 17 individuals identified for sanctions under the magnitsky act. but what we know from our research on the killing and murder of journalist around the world is that in nine out of 10 cases, there is no justice. no perpetrators are held to account. and in the rare cases where perpetrators are held to account, it is rarely including the master mind. so, this quest for information
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and designation by congress represents an attempt to get justice in a system that lacks rule of law, that lacks due process and where it is difficult to get justice inside the system. now, saudi arabia has said is put 11 people on trial, it has as the saudi mission to the united nations for the names and if that trial is open to the press or open to international observers. they have not responded and as far as i can tell, no one knows who those 11 people are. that is not going to be a former justice. the magnitsky act is very important, in the vast majority of murders that go unpunished, murders of journalists i go unpunished, no one is held accountable for two reasons. one is the lack of political will and the second is a lack
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of institutional capacity. i think the magnitsky act is looking to address issue political will. let's change that calculation so that the potential sanctions and retribution they will face through the action by the united states or these other countries that are considering adopting it can lead to some form of justice. if course is not a replacement for justice at the national level. it is as close as we are going to come. why do we insist that there be more information about the crown prince responsibility and white believe he should most likely be subject to the sanctions? because, saudi arabia since ben solman has come into power, has imprisoned 12 journalists which raises the total to 16 journalists. it has 15-detain women rights bloggers who were writing about the women's right movement that
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somehow the crown prince got so much credit for allowing women to drive but arrested and imprisoned reporters running about that. and has also imprisoned journalists who have steered clear of politics. and the common thread to all of this arrest is the presidency of state security. the creation of the body consolidated all of the security and intelligence services under one roof. and elevate its head to leveled ministers while retaining his role as a director of general intelligence. this move gutted the security jurisdiction of the ministry and consolidated power over the saudi security apparatus into the hands of the king and the crown prince. it seems like there is a good rationale for understanding that the murder of jahmal khashoggi cannot of taken place without the crown prince knowing about it. one other thing rob mentioned
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is the great personal risk that people take around the world. so, having access to these mechanisms is important. it is not easy to speak out against these issues. so, we are saying that other countries around the world including the european union was considering a global magnitsky act. europe is much closer in many places to these countries where leadership likes to go shopping. we have seen for example, the wives in many cases of authoritarians like assad go shopping in paris. how can we make it more costly for these major human rights abuses to occur and if are talking about protecting journalists in countries that lack any sort of protection for journalists, like due process, and lack any sort of respectable press freedom, we are going to have to look
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externally. so the fact that the trump administration decided not to reply with any meaningful information on friday says a very dangerous and negative signal. we actually saw the saudi official twitter account said that a veiled threat to those who are trying to determine this. as an advocate with the community to protect journalists, as well as a firm role journalist and got kicked out of the united arab emirates for an article i wrote, i'm glad only got fired and had to leave the country nothing worse happened. it is challenging . it is scary to do that work when you have the saudi embassy sending out threatening tweets. so, its too bad thattrump miss that deadline that i think we are going to hear from congress and i would be incident to know what the next steps from congress are to hold jamal khashoggi's murder and the
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mastermind accountable. there thank you, courtney for that could tie into the congressman. we have this letter which is not been released publicly. it makes clear that the trump administration is not, at this point, will make illegal finding. the trump administration officials have said it is discretionary but it is up to the ministrations discretion whether complies with the committee requests. is that what the law says? what are we looking at, politically, here? how far would congress have to go to potentially push this? and, what are some of the different kinds of leverage the lawmakers have if they want to push this action in terms of getting answers? >> thank you. so, ordinarily, it is a matter of discretion. it is a matter of discretion for an administration to decide whether meet a request from
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committees for information. this is not an ordinary request because we have a law passed by the congress, signed by the president of the united states which says very explicitly, when the chairs of these committees send a letter to the state department asking for a factual determination, did rob an commit a crime? the administration must respond. they must say yes or no and if yes, what steps will be taken to hold them accountable? the magnitsky act does not mandate sanctions . it is not say if you have committed a human rights abuse you must be sanction. it merely gives the president the authority to impose those sanctions. but it gives these members of congress the ability to require a factual determination about
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particular individuals who have been accused of these crimes. so that we know, did mbs kill jahmal khashoggi and if so, what are you going to do about it? they have to answer. and, this is, in my opinion, as a member of congress, an example of the executive branch defining law. they would rather defile the law and defend saudi arabia. that's a matter of grave concern. we have to figure out what we can do about that. whether we have legal mechanisms to challenge what we think most of us on the hill is a serious misinterpretation of the magnitsky act. the global magnitsky act. second, we have to decide what we can do as a congress about the khashoggi case going forward. again, the magnitski act
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creates authority for sanction, we could if we chose passed legislation demanding sanctions for anybody responsible for the death of jahmal khashoggi. this would be the next logical step and hit something i hope congress will do. there is support for such legislation in the senate we have seen senator menendez, center young and others introduce legislation along those lines so has bipartisan support. i believe there would be significant support in the house of representatives as well and as our president likes to say, we'll see what happens. but i think that would would be the next logical step. >> think you very much congressman. so, i want to stand, the debate or discussion beyond jahmal khashoggi to the international
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stage and other journalists around the world. following the lead of the united states in order to mention on the panel, several other countries have adopted magnitsky laws of their own including the united kingdom, canada and estonia and the european union is debating language for a magnitsky measure. so, rob, to my understanding, you are very involved in these discussions in the eu in terms of advocating for language or sharing your expertise about what language should be in the law. could you sketch out the points of contention including how protected classes of people are or are not defined such as journalist. to make sure, so as you mentioned, rachel, we in the united states, have been leading on this matter. but a number of other governments have taken action under a broad base of laws that are usefully referred to as
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magnitsky laws. as you mentioned, canola has passed the law and starting to implement it has levy designations against individuals including 17 saudi nationals as an agent under the u.s. law. there is on the boxing united kingdom that is tied into brexit and it is not implemented and a number of the baltic states have passed laws to the best of my understanding, in terms of sanctions, they deal with the visa restrictions meaning the designated individuals can enter the territory the state. which for obvious reasons is very important. so, in december, the dutch foreign ministry let a conversation at the gathering of the eu foreign ministers that happens on a regular basis around whether the european union was start the process of designing a law similar to the
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global magnitsky act that would hold across the 20 member states of the european union. that conversation is in very early stages. there is no draft text of what the law that would put on the books is looking like. and a number of organizations including mine as you mentioned are involved in speaking with member states and components of the european union around what a viable magnitsky -like program might look like. just about points of contention? there are a number, one issue is if the future european sanctions program what addressed, not just human right violations, but also corruption , as we heard from the congressman, earlier, proponents of using this tool, effectively, strongly feel that given what we know to be true in so many repressive environments, that governments that hold no legitimacy and
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essentially hold power by force tend to combine the repression they engage in with stealing from the people and when they steal from their people, they rely on repression to hold power. so, these are issues that are linked and the message that i and other advocates have been carrying two member states in the european union is to have an effective program, you need to incorporate both corruption and human right prongs. there are a number of other points of discussions and these sanctions are complex, they bring in obviously, a number of crimes around the world and so there's an ongoing conversation around whether it is appropriate to specify the sorts of crimes that are covered and the victims, the potential victims against whom the crimes are committed.
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or whether its whether to lead to the log in general or not. for the u.s. context, the global magnitsky act is quite broad and subject to interpretation. it simply says that sanctions may be executed against perpetrators of gross violations of human rights and access significant corruption. through the law, those terms are defined to some extent but our law does not get into specific classes of individuals as i mentioned in my opening remarks. the european union for variety of reasons may take a different approach and may actually specify particular crimes and particular classes of victims. and, there are trade-offs between giving the executive more latitude versus specifying here are the instances in which we expect the sanctions might be levied.
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>> thank you for that,. courtney, do you want to add anything to this from c pj's perspective as you view these ongoing discussions? primack yeah, it is important to realize that we are in relatively early days and figuring how and if the magnitsky act will have an impact on protecting journalists. that is ultimately what we are looking at. if we look at where we are, so far, there have only been 2 cases where the magnitsky act was used to sanction individuals used to be responsible for the murder of a journalist. there were two journals killed in 2015 and of course the 17 saudi officials. but it also looked like the threat of a travel ban can have an impact on the broader freedom of the press issues in
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countries, at least in one instance. the threat of a travel ban proposed by senator with an amendment to the state department and foreign operations appropriations bills which called for travel bans against average rodney officials did appear to potentially be linked to suspect. i think the still needs be tested but as alluded to, there are early indications that, it is a step in the right direction. is a tool and many countries like azerbaijan, saudi arabia, etc. there are a few concerning things about the initial invocation of the magnitsky act. no one from the middle east was sanctioned before the 17 saudi individuals. despite the vast violations against press freedom and broader human rights in many countries, including for example egypt which is the worlds second-leading jailer of
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journalists or bahrain which has systematically dismantled a reform movement and i think we tried to go to bahrain at one point and were not allowed in or you got kicked out. i can't remarry the details. >> that is what happens. there so, i think there is a long way to go with this. but, when you are searching for justice, especially in regions where you don't have a european court of human rights, or you don't have the organization of american states or the osb e or other bodies where you might be able to go to get justice, it really could be the only lifeline to finding any matter of justice when journalists are murdered. >> great, thank you, courtney. this next question i would love to hear from you rob.
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and, you congressman. about, there are sanctions, they are becoming more policy tools, what is the best practices of sanctions, they're still evolving. there is ongoing discussion about whether sanctions work to stop current bad behavior or whether they work to act as a deterrent to prevent future bad behavior. do either one of you want to talk or please discuss your own thinking about how sanctions work in human rights contacts and even more specifically in the press freedom context? >> do you want me to start? >> sure, i will lead off. i'm sure tom has other thoughts. so diplomacy, any diplomatic conversation is about bargaining and compromise and leverage. and, at the end of the day,
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sanctions with human rights or otherwise our policy tools. they have potentially a turn affect and can administer a modicum of justice, certainly. but ultimately, the point of tools like this is to affect policy change for personal behavioral change. in conversations i had when i was serving in the u.s. state department, let's say around political prisoners, often the conversation revolved what the u.s. government was willing to trade to the other government, for that of the government to release somewhat from detention who never should've been there in the first place, whether its a journalist or otherwise. in many cases, the discussion that goes on within the u.s. government in these contexts
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revolves around what carrots we can give for that person to be released. that's a perfectly appropriate conversation. but what sanctions targeted sanctions can be placed on individuals allow in a diplomatic negotiation is additional leverage. so, for instance, the u.s. government can sanction officials found to be responsible for multiple officials found to be responsible for the unjust imprisonment of a dissident or peaceful protester or opposition politician. that puts a marker on the board that can then be used in the diplomatic conversation. it creates a point of leverage. rather than giving something away. it's in those cases, where we see kind of the most sophisticated use of tools like this. to i think that when there is not a diplomatic strategy around sanctions, tools like this are used effectively? it's very hard to know. it certainly has an impact on
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the sanctioned individual, but whether a system in which an individual knows he or she can, say, commit torture with impunity will change his or her behavior, or the system is going to change his or her behavior, the u.s. government is more systematic in its application, i think we all know what the outcome is going to be. there is probably not likely to be that much change. the times in which tools like this are the most effective or when they are part of a larger diplomatic strategy in which you can create the leverage and then use the leverage toward some greater end. >> a good example of that was the strategy we followed over the years to promote democratic change in burma. for many years, we opposed sanctions, ultimately targeted sanctions very similar to the magnitsky act sanctions we are discussing here, on senior burmese leaders, military officials, and it didn't look
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like it was having any impact. and then changes began in burma. we carried out exactly the kind of diplomatic negotiation that rob just mentioned. every single stick we imposed on burma over the years became a carrot we could offer. if you release political prisoners, we could relax this sanction. if you schedule free elections, for part of your parliament, we will drop these sanctions, so on and so on. if we had not imposed those sanctions, we would have had very little to offer as carrots. as the evolution of the country's democratic transition proceeded. now, in many cases, we're not going to have that kind of diplomatic process, as rob acknowledged. even there, i think it's incredibly important to have a tool to site impunity. for the purpose of deterring such acts in the future.
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now, think about it. we have had laws against bank robbery forever. people still rob banks all the time. does that mean the laws against bank robbery are useless? now. the success of those laws is measured in the bank robberies that don't happen. that is something very hard to measure but i think we all understand because there is a sanction, for people who commit that crime, fewer people commit it. that's why it is important for us to get into a habit of using this tool so that dictators and coptic rats around the world understand this potential consequence. even if they have impunity at home, they may lose something important to them. we have to apply this the right way. this gets me back to the saudi case. if all we do after the saudi government has said, yes, this crime was committed, that it was not mds. it was just a bunch of people acting without the authority of our leadership, if all we do is
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sanction those henchmen, we are actually reinforcing the saudi government's cover story. we are actually affirming their lot, and allowing mds, who was almost certainly the author of this crime, to conclude that in fact, he can get away with such things because of his importance, because of his position. there are thousands of all jamal khashoggi's in the united states, in europe, who are at risk if we allow that message to be sent. if we allow dictators to conclude that if they are important to the united states, we will exempt them from the application of this tool. we can't let that happen. >> powerful words. thank you. think we have time for another question before we turn it to the audience. in talking about imposing sanctions, contextualizing it, and what's at stake for governments of the united
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states like liberal democracy governments, which are also receiving, including the u.s., hundreds of billions of dollars annually in assisted money flows, money that is got me illegally through corrupt actions abroad, that is an essentially laundered through western economy for the purchase of real estate and other assets. some countries, including in europe, get a significant amount of money from doing this so if they are going to impose sanctions on corrupt officials, they are potentially going to lose out on money. can we talk a little bit about -- i feel like that debate gets less public discussion because western governments don't want to admit how much money is at stake, and how much different is miss sectors are profiting from it, particularly real estate.
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>> i've seen estimates that suggest more than half of russia's national wealth is outside of russia. that money is not just sitting somewhere, it's doing things. it is making people rich. it is making real estate developers rich. it's making lawyers, and law firms rich. no country right now, yes, you mentioned europe, but no country right now at least no significant country has more lax rules when it comes to exposing and cracking down on the flow of that kind of elicit wealth in the united states of america. european countries have actually done, in recent years, better than we have in cracking down on these illicit flows of illicitly acquired wealth. the uk, and the eu, now have stronger beneficial ownership laws. laws that require that the true owners of companies register in
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their jurisdictions, and the exposed, at least to the government, there law enforcement institutions. we are still struggling to pass such legislation in the u.s. congress. i am going to fight really hard to do that this year, and hopefully we will be successful. our patriot act, required our banks to report to our government, elicit and large, suspicious transactions involving foreign persons but it explicitly exempted the real estate industry. it temporarily exempted the real estate industry. that temporary exemption is still in place. that is something that we have to act to close because we saw in 2016 that our lax rules not only enabled the united states to be a safe haven for dictators and kleptocrats but
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they became a vulnerability because that money is doing something in our country. in addition to making some people very rich, it is also influencing our politics. it's influencing our democracy in ways we should not accept. >> can i make one point about corruption and the link to journalism? one of the most deadly beats for journalists is covering corruption. tracking those elicit money flows, much of what we know about this corruption came because journalists reported on it. because journalists dugout those facts. you have this amazing reporter reporting by the organized crime reporting project and other networks working together, and this is an important part of a much broader solution but it still won't get up things like even if you have an eu magnitsky act, probably won't deal with corruption within the
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eu and how that might be linked to the murder of journalists. we've seen several murders of journalists in eu member countries, which we haven't typically seen. the common thread is corruption. so i think that is something we want to keep in mind. also, what this approach does not help is western companies, especially technology companies that sell surveillance technologies to governments that then use that to spy on their citizens. chief among those is the nso group whose software was found on jamal khashoggi's friend's phone and made have been implicated in that, also found to be linked in several journalists murdered in mexico. this is a small part of a much broader solution that is needed. a fuller package. >> we are going to turn it over
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to questions from the audience now. when you are called upon, please stand up. identify yourself and give your affiliation. i am going to try to initially focus on reporters. then after that, we will go to everybody else. i think we should have time. we have about half an hour. we will end five minutes before for some press club announcements. please remember to identify yourself and affiliation. >> voice of america. >> remember to identify yourself. >> reporter: from the voice of america service. according to see pj, china is the second-largest jailer of journalists in the world. can you give us a little brief introduction of the situation there and what the u.s. can do to protect journalists there? >> china is consistently among
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the top three jailers for journalists for most of the years we have kept records. we have seen that the crackdown on the press in china has become very expensive, especially when related to reporting on other issues considered national security issues, such as human rights issues, and so you see journalists getting caught up in this. i think this is -- the idea of sanctions and targeted sanctions in a relationship with a very important country. china as being different from saudi arabia where saudi arabia is considered an ally and china is considered more of an adversary. i don't know that we have seen a good example yet of the magnitsky act or this approach being used to sanction those who are responsible for imprisoning journalists but that would be something that would be interesting to explore
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because what we typically see around the world in general, as most countries, where you have either the killing or the imprisonment of journalists, usually it's either or so in countries like china, you don't have a lot of journalists being killed regularly, but you have lots of journalists imprisoned. i think it would be interesting to hear from the congressman about whether this would be interesting to use and the dynamic of the chinese relationship. >> it would be and i believe there was one chinese official who was sanctioned under the global magnitsky act in the last round. in the obama administration, our interpretation of the law, which allows sanction for gross human rights abuses was that nearly imprisoning a dissident or journalist did not rise to the level of a gross human rights abuse for better or worse. so torture, yes, killing, yes,
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but merely imprisoning a dissident, unfortunately a very common occurrence around the world, was not considered to rise to the level of gross human rights abuses under the law. i'm not sure if the trump administration is interpreting it the same way. >> if i could jump in. it seems the trump administration is interpreting the law more broadly. i would point people to the case in turkey, in which the trump administration sanctioned two very senior to's officials for the imprisonment of pastor andrew brunson. that's a case in which there wasn't necessarily mistreatment. this was about detention. that is not lost on advocates going back to the administration saying you did it in this instance. we expect to see this applied more broadly. >> there are several cases in
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china where journalists have also been reported to be tortured, denied medical care, and medical access, so potentially in those cases, it might rise to the level, but i think this is something we will have to see how it plays out. >> just to close out conversation on your question, there is of course, a tremendous interest from members of congress, both republicans and democrat, for global magnitsky act specific to the situation in china, where there's been a tremendous amount of congressional interest. >> al jazeera. >> >> reporter: my question is to the congressman. you said the law is basically -- it authorizes but doesn't apply the president to move so
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going back to saudi arabia, if there is no political will on behalf of this administration to actually move forward, and sanction and bs, if that is the final conclusion, how does that actually play out and in practical terms, what message does that send? and what would congress do in that case? i also wanted to ask if there is any potential laws that could be passed going forward regarding egypt and actually jailing journalists and human rights activists there. yes. just to reiterate the administration is not legally >> to reiterate, yes. d the administration is not legally obliged to sanction anybody in saudi arabia. the message they have sent thus far is one i fear real officials reinforces the officials' story that the saudi government has put out, but this was a rogue operation and only the so-
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called rogue operators should be punished. i think that's a very dangerous message to send. both because i think mbs will draw conclusions about his own impunity that will be dangerous to american interests, but other dictators may draw the same conclusion. finally, what congress can and what i hope will do, is to pass new legislation which makes the sanctions mandatory. bit? i think this message being heard around the world is not just >> can i respond a little bit on that? i think this message being heard around the world is not just from dark dictators. dictators are hearing it and gaining -- from it but it's also being heard in places like malta, where a journalist was murdered and i was there in october for the one-year anniversary, and spoke with the attorney general, the prime minister about the status of
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investigation because they had identified two people who allegedly were responsible for setting off the car bomb, but they didn't order it. they weren't the ones who decided on their own to go murder this journalist. what is the signal being sent in that case? and literally the hundreds of cases around the world. in democratic and authoritarian countries alike. we are demanding justice by putting the master manned on trial by investigating who the mastermind is. i think that is being heard wide and clear, that if you have a special relationship with the u.s., we are not going to pursue that. on your question about egypt, i think it's interesting to hear that imprisonment is not seen as part of this gross human rights violation, but i think when you see the systematic imprisonment of journalists, independent activists, human rights defenders, and the dismantling of this reform unit in egypt, and the fact that since the uprising and the
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overthrow of the president, there has been a sea change in the press freedom conditions. it wasn't great to begin with but it was the only country in the world freedom house said was not free on political and civil liberties, but partly free on press freedom. there has been complete dismantling of the press there. i think we have to also look at individual cases, and if there are 40 individual cases, were dozens of individual cases, those can create a gross human rights violation. we would like to see the administration do more on egypt. again, it's this idea that egypt is an ally in the war on terror, and these are the special relationships, but i think we should now after all these years that not standing up for human rights and being an ally of individuals will have long-term negative repercussions on the united states and its national security.
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>> i will come back over here. row? the blue. . >> hello. >> thanks. i am a journalist from russia. we know russia is a state where there is massive propaganda, state propaganda. we don't need any cia assessments to decide whether those are rogue actors, and whether or not there with putin. i have been calling for sanctioning, at least the top officials at these state propaganda machines. every time i talk to people, including rob, i am being told no, this is first amendment, and included congressional staff is on the democratic side. my question is we know that the obama administration aggressively lobbied against the magnitsky act.
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the state department, treasury, national security council. they didn't want the magnitsky act to be passed. thankfully, it did and we know it was a mistake to lobby against the magnitsky act. my question is aren't we making the same mistake now, when we do not sanction putin's state propaganda? thank you. >> when i was an assistant secretary of state, i very much wanted to sanction the propagandists but rod told me i couldn't. do you want to explain? i am sort of kidding. >> i will take the opening. i think we can all agree about the nature of russia's state propaganda and its terrible effects, both in russia and elsewhere. the bottom line is we look at
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the magnitsky act. they simply don't apply to sanctioning propagandists. we go back and look at what sorts of crimes are covered, and there was early discussion that it looks like the trump administration is applying the definitions a little bit more broadly than the obama administration did. but essentially the covered crimes boiled down to murder, torture, forced disappearance, rape, and the holding of political prisoners or the in just imprisonment. it's important that the crimes these sanctions, given how coercive of a tool they are, it's important that we all have a common understanding of how they could be applied. this is a very serious penalty, and one that absolutely should not be applied on illegal or
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unjust grounds. i say as a human rights advocate, this is a tool that is misapplied, could be extraordinarily damaging to any number of classes of people, but not least of whom are activists and journalists, so when we are dealing with propaganda, it's just an incredibly tricky landscape and at the end of the day, we need to be very careful when we are talking about freedom of expression. i know this is the answer you've heard before and expect, but that is not to say there aren't other means by which the u.s. government should be approaching the effects of propaganda, and i think we need to be very creative in how we addressed this information as anybody that has read the headlines over the course of the last three years could tell you.
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>> at the moderator's discretion, i am going to interject with my own question for the panel. i was find it interesting to probe unintended consequences of policies. harkening back to our patriot act, and our antiterrorism laws in the years since 911, we've seen countries adopt their own laws which have been used to crack down on freedom of expression. is there potential that the magnitsky act could also be misapplied instead of like -- i mean, i don't know. but if i were a creative dictator, i am pretty sure i could find a way to accuse a descendent of a human rights violation because he upset the public stability, or something like that. can you talk about maybe the nuance here in trying to propagate a set of human rights laws that cannot be misconstrued to the exact opposite of what we want them to do? >> the bottom line is the dictators already have tools at their disposal to use against
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activists. including the misapplication of the law. and up to and including murder. i don't think we should let that argument stopped us. now, we should have safeguards in place. this is a topic of conversation with the europeans, as they think about their own laws. we need to make sure that anybody who is designated and put on the specially designated nationals list that the treasury department maintains, that the evidentiary base that went into that designation is airtight. it is very important that the person designated be able to show at the end of the day that they either were designated wrongly, and that designation can be challenged either administratively or through a court of law, which exists in the united states, or -- and this gets to the heart of sanctions, that person has changed their behavior and thus should be removed from the list
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because the magnitsky act is so new that has not yet come up. the turkey case, i mentioned earlier after brunson was released, but in other sanctions programs, we have seen instances in which the designated individual petitions and ultimately is given the change in behavior, taken off the list. but given what dictators have to say, they already have all the tools, so i don't have much sympathy for us necessarily needing to rebut that line of thinking. >> i would say it's important for the united states to realize the role that it plays around the world, and so you alluded to the terrorism laws and you know to put things in perspective, the most common charge used to jail journalists in the past three years, we've seen record numbers of journalists jailed, more than 250 each year, is antistate
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charges, such as supporting terrorism, providing support to a terrorist group, terrorist propaganda, etc. we have seen it now with fake news, as well. the fake news rhetoric has spread around the world. we are seeing more countries proposing fake news laws that would restrict and punish criminally the dissemination of so-called fake news. we have seen the number of journalists imprisoned on false news charges rise since that rhetoric has increased, and of course we can look at specific examples going back to the russia propaganda one, where the whole discussion about the foreign agent registration act led to retaliation in russia, creating their own approach to f.a.r. a and using that to apply not only to u.s. government-funded entities, media entities, but also cnn and other broader media. as rob said, it doesn't seem too contributing in the magnitsky act act at this
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point. >> in the front. >> thank you, thavery much. based in beirut, lebanon. the reason i say beirut, lebanon is because we have international criminals really assassinated but in this case, we have more evidence about the jamal khashoggi case that he was murdered in the embassy, and instead of going through the sanction route, there is international criminal could be -- at least agreed-upon or at least we should take the legal even in congress to have an international investigation or whatever investigation. turkey itself, by the way, called for such a thing. so i think protecting
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journalists, probably the legal approach with international law -- it's more, probably acceptable internationally than sometimes the selective application of sanctions on certain countries. to be perceived as selective morality or selective justice. >> i can take that. i think when i was a u.s. diplomat, the prime example that critics of the united states pointed to, to argue that america was selective in its use of time human rights tools was saudi arabia, so i think if we use a strong human rights tool against saudi arabia, actually a fairly good example of the united states placing its values ahead of its relationships. it would not be seen as selective.
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that said, if there were an international judicial or legal mechanism that could be applied here, i would be very strongly supportive of that. my guess is it would be harder in practice to put that into place because i don't saudi arabia would cooperate. i doubt they would produce suspects to be tried, especially since the chief suspect is potentially the absolute ruler of the country for the next 50 years, if that is allowed to happen. and so, the magnitsky act sanctions tool becomes something we know is at least available to us, even as we pursue other judicial mechanisms. >> with response to your question around the international role, we don't believe there is only one path to justice. we have called for an international united nations criminal investigation by the secretary-general.
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we held a press conference at the u.n., with human rights watch, reporters without borders, and amnesty, calling for this. we have met with the secretary- general's office and with several member states. we understand turkey has expressed its openness to that . so, we would like to see the u.n. secretary-general monts their own investigation. i think the u.n. special repertoire on extrajudicial killing and her initial fact- finding mission to turkey indicates again that there is very significant evidence that the crown prince was involved, and so that furthers the call for an international criminal investigation, so i don't think it's an either/or. it's a both. . >> right here with the type. >> e >> thank you, very much. i represent the free house independent news agency. i appreciate you calling on me. i think we should keep in mind in the situation, we had a
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congressional sanction amendment. that was actually calling everyone, every single person involved in his case could be sanctioned. i think that was a strong wind which of the government quite smartly. they are serious. they're going to come after the president, everybody involved. so my question is my colleague from russia asked, what we know about jamal khashoggi, the first time they met, they are the ones with arrests, or they decide who gets in and out of jail. in this situation, going after some small level let's say officials really doesn't sound defective. if you go after -- we were discussing earlier, this morning, that we have others.
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what we heard from the situation of jamal khashoggi in jail is some lower-level officials in jail are basically trying to get involved into torture because they might get promoted and their names will get out there. they don't have an interest in coming to the u.s. to begin with. so how much should we align our knowledge about how that's being managed and what kind of assets to they hold? who holds what? and go after that, when we think about sanctions? my second question, if you don't mind, i appreciate the congressman for being here. thank you for being involved. we heard the saudi foreign minister last weekend. he drew a redline against those who are naming what crown prince. i think it's actually about congress because congress just
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passed a resolution anonymously. how do we respond to that threat? thank you very much. >> we will respond to that threat, i hope, that passes legislation that crosses his redline. don't threaten members of congress if you want to influence us. that's a very bad idea. >> on your 1st point around how this is being used, having been to azerbaijan twice, including on a press mission related to two journalists who were imprisoned, i think the interests the family has in visiting europe condo vacationing there, and all of that, indicates how important it could be for the eu to adopt a similar type of legislation. i think u.s. global magnitsky act is great if you have that relationship with the u.s., keep your money here, and on real estate, or all of these other interests, but again, it will improve and strengthen the
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impact, if we can see this globally, but i don't think the goal is to just get the low- level officials. the goal of this is to get those with power and influence, so i hope that is where we are headed. obviously, we were disappointed to see no one from azure benedon azerbaijan was on the sanctions list but i think rob could speak to this better but the level of evidence required to bring a case, and as he was saying, the need to be airtight, so that there is no ability to leverage any inconsistencies or inaccuracies, or anything to drill a hole in it is very important. you lead the coalition of ngos submitting cases, and i don't know if we have a sense of why no one from the middle east or azerbaijan was on that list but i wonder what the level of evidence is required in some of
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these countries, where it's very hard to get ironclad evidence. >> i will respond by saying quickly of course, coming up with credible evidence that is corroborated is essential both on advocacy and more importantly the governmental side to achieve a designation but ultimately, this is a political choice, and in matter of political will. application of the law is discretionary, as we have heard multiple times on the panel. this administration or any administration has to have the political will to take action. with you've pointed out, alex, is even when there is political will to take action within a particular country context, the state department and treasury, and justice department, need to be smart about not only are they making a designation but at what level and what message does that send. in the case of saudi arabia, i think many in the advocacy community were pleased to see the designations of the 17 saudi nationals, but feel the
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message that will be sent the trump administration limits the designations to those 17 will be counterproductive for all the reasons that have been previously mentioned the same goes in azerbaijan. if ultimately, this administration decides at some point to sanction an individual or individuals in the country but those people are seen as so low-level that there is essentially no impact, that could be proactively counterproductive as compared to having taken no action in the first place. that's an important conversation. in order to get it right, it requires a level of sophistication about how these sanctions on a case-by-case basis, are perceived by the receiving end. . we are down to four minutes before we landed this discussion do we have one more quick question? . >> great. we are down to four minutes before we are going to end this discussion. do we have one more quick
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question? >> hello. i am a journalist from turkey. the sanctions were applied to the two ministers and suddenly, they have been withdrawn. bronson was released. do you have the fear that magnitsky act or any fears about journalist's freedoms can be misused by the administration? and what measures should be taken to prevent this? on the case of turkey, it was completely against the u.s. interests, as well, since it also increased anti-americanism in of territory in real authoritarian role, which is not a carrot for u.s., for sure. >> good question. the bronson case was complex. on the one hand, it demonstrated quite effectively that if you apply this tool at
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an appropriate level, you can achieve the desired policy outcome. in this case, his release. now, was that the right policy outcome from the perspective of the united states? that's a slightly different question. i commented on this episode at the time by saying in an environment in which not only has the present turkish government and present by some accounts, tens of thousands of otherwise innocent individuals including journalists, and many others, but also holds a number of other americans, who were not mentioned in the context of the imposition of the mcnitzky sanctions against the two ministers. i think that was an opportunity lost and i think the message sent by the administration, unfortunately, was that we only care about this one individual. i don't think it takes much speculation to understand why administration wanted to send
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that message. was it an appropriate use i think is in the eye of the beholder, but the larger point is we always have to be conscious, or those within the u.s. government always have to be conscious of consequences both intended and unintended. >> great. that brings us to the end of our discussion. i hope everybody learned a lot. as you heard here, there is still a lot that we don't yet know about this set of mcnitzky sanctions but we wanted to hold a discussion because we see this is an important, evolving issue for journalists, and it sits in nicely with press freedom and professional development. just a few housekeeping announcements and a press freedom announcement. >> please, join me in thinking the panel. >> [ applause ] >> you may have noticed some of the panelists and people in the
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room wearing pins that say free austin thaiss. we want to make sure you know about his story. austin is an american journalist who was taken 2370 days ago in syria, while reporting for mcclatchy and the washington post. you can see some of his work covering the conflict in the press club lobby. his family has been fighting for his freedom for 6 1/2 years, and we stand with them. we hope that you will keep the pin that you have on the comment card suffer left on all the seats, and show your support, as well for press freedom and for austin and his family. we hope that you will fill out the comment card and return that to us so we can continue to support the work you do, that journalists do, and support press freedom, as well. thank you again for coming and thank you to rachel and the panel.
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[inaudible conversations] [inaudible conversations] >> there are nearly 100 new
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members of the house of representatives this year. ohio, west virginia, maryland, mississippi, and washington are five of the states that added one new member. representative anthony gonzales was a football star at ohio state before the indianapolis colts drafted him in 2007. after injuries cut short his professional football career, representative gonzales earned his mba at stanford business school. he is the first latino elected to ohio's congressional delegation. representative carol miller served over a decade in the statehouse before voters in west virginia voters of the third district elected her and to congress. politics runs in her family. she is the daughter of samuel devine, whose seat would later be filled by future ohio governor and 2016 presidential candidate john kasich. congressman michael guest was a local prosecutor in mississippi, for nearly 25 years. the last decade before his
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election to the house. he is also a sunday school teacher at his local baptist church. representative david trone and his brother opened a small liquor store in delaware in the early 1990s. the company eventually moved its headquarters to maryland and has expanded to become the largest fine when retail in the country. and washington's eighth district elected representative kim schrier, a pediatrician, and the only female doctor in congress. new congress, new leaders. watch it all on c-span. >> dan delaney was a former u.s. representative from maryland serving from 2013 to 2019, and he is now a democratic presidential candidate, the first democrat to declare his interest in the presidency. thank you for joining us. >> thank for having me. >> what convinced yo

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