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Thursday, December 1st, 2022

Ukraine Human Rights Policy Act seeks new sanctions for Russian human rights violations

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Seeking to dial-up support for the Ukrainian war effort and increase scrutiny of Russian actions taken during its invasion, a group of U.S. senators and congressmen last week submitted the bipartisan, bicameral Ukraine Human Rights Policy Act of 2022. 

Jointly rolled out by U.S. Sens. Todd Young (R-IN) and Jacky Rosen (D-NV), as well as U.S. Reps. Pat Fallon (R-TX) and Jimmy Panetta (D-CA), the legislation would focus domestic attention more firmly onto the European war with a series of actions. 

For one, it would create a congressional nomination process for submitting human rights sanctions and couple this with a classified report for Congress on the scope of Russian war crimes, including human rights abuses. It would also amend the Sense of Congress to enshrine support for Ukraine and condemn the Russian Federation actions in its invasion. Additionally, U.S. policy itself would be updated to seek consequences for those assisting forced relocation, detention and filtration activities within Ukraine and Russia. Lastly, the annual State Department human rights report would have to include details on human rights abuses within Ukraine and the forced detention and relocation of Ukrainians to Russia. 

“I have met with the spouses and mothers of Ukrainian soldiers currently imprisoned by Russian thugs who have no idea if their loved ones are alive or dead,” Young said. “I have met with Ukrainians who have suffered in unspeakable ways going back to Russia’s first invasion of Crimea in 2014. Russia’s egregious human rights abuses must be met with accountability, both today and in the future. By ensuring strong sanctions are placed on the Russian Federation, this bill marks a step toward justice for the thousands of Ukrainians suffering at the hands of Russia’s barbaric aggression in Ukraine.”

The introduction of the bill followed another UN Security Council Meeting on the topic of the war, and mass graves discovered in the eastern region of Ukraine. The discoveries were made after territory was recovered in a major counter assault by Ukrainian forces earlier this month. According to Ukrainian investigators, hundreds of bodies were discovered there – men, women and children, many showing signs of torture. 

“As Russia continues its ruthless and remorseless attack on Ukraine, the Ukrainian people are experiencing, and the world is witnessing human rights atrocities,” Panetta said. “By expanding the authority to apply sanctions against Russia, our Ukraine Human Rights Policy Act is a device to hold Russia accountable for its heinous acts and a deterrent against further crimes against humanity. This bipartisan legislation is consonant with the United States leadership on assisting Ukraine and countering Russia and consistent with our values as the world’s leading democracy.”

Millions have been displaced since the start of the war and thousands killed. The bill has been backed by the Foundation for Defense of Democracies Action.