This article has been updated with new information in the fourth paragraph
The European Union on Monday announced that it had adopted a global human rights sanctions regime.
According to a press statement released by the E.U, the framework allows the bloc “to target individuals, entities and bodies – including state and non-state actors – responsible for, involved in or associated with serious human rights violations and abuses worldwide, no matter where they occurred.”
Measures allowed under this new regime include a travel ban that applies to individuals, and freezing of funds applying to both individuals and entities sanctioned. Moreover, persons and entities in the EU will be forbidden from making funds available to those listed, either directly or indirectly.
This framework was inspired by the American Magnitsky Act passed in 2012 to target Russian officials involved in the death of Sergei Magnitsky, a lawyer who was investigating corruption. The act was used by the Trump administration in 2018 to sanction Turkish authorities as part of a campaign to secure the release of pastor Andrew Brunson.
There was no mention of Turkey in the statement, but the move arrives three days before a major EU meeting where members are due to decide whether or not to sanction Ankara over its drilling activities in the eastern Mediterranean.
European officials told the EU Observer that sanctions on human rights grounds were being considered as one measure against Turkey, particularly after the country sentenced 337 people to life in prison in late November.
A lack of independence in Turkey’s public institutions was also the subject of a report by the European Commission in October that followed the last summit when sanctions failed to pass.