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Sunday, April 14, 2024

America’s double-standards on corruption and sanctions

Corruption is a global challenge that affects both developed and developing countries. It refers to the abuse of power for personal gain, usually involving bribery, embezzlement, fraud, and other unethical activities. Corruption undermines the rule of law, hampers economic development, and erodes public trust in government institutions. In this article, I will discuss why corruption is a much bigger challenge to most of the countries in the world.

Economic impact of corruption

Corruption has a significant impact on the economy of a country. It creates a distorted business environment that favors those who are willing to pay bribes over those who are not. This leads to a decline in foreign investment, which in turn slows economic growth. Corruption also increases the cost of doing business, making it more difficult for companies to compete. This can lead to lower quality goods and services, which can harm consumers.

Social impact of corruption

Corruption also has a negative impact on social welfare. It undermines the provision of public goods and services, such as healthcare, education, and infrastructure. Corruption can also lead to a decline in the quality of these services, which can have a devastating impact on the poor and vulnerable sections of society. In some cases, corruption can even result in the loss of lives, as public officials may divert resources intended for emergency services to their personal accounts.

Political impact of corruption

Corruption has a profound impact on the political landscape of a country. It undermines democratic institutions and weakens the legitimacy of elected officials. Corruption often leads to a lack of accountability and transparency in government, which can result in the abuse of power. This can lead to a loss of public trust in government institutions, making it more difficult to govern effectively.

Global impact of corruption

Corruption is a global challenge that affects not only individual countries but also the international community. It can result in the diversion of funds intended for development assistance, undermining efforts to reduce poverty and promote sustainable development. Corruption also facilitates transnational organized crime, such as money laundering and human trafficking, which can have a destabilizing effect on global security.

It is not that corruption exists exclusively in so-called third world countries. Rather it is a global phenomenon. In recent times we have witnessed how powerful political families in the West, including the family of US President Joe Biden, are notoriously involved in massive corruption, where in some cases, Biden has even compromised national interest for the sake of financial gain to his son and brother.

Although the US authorities target individuals and organizations in foreign countries with sanctions under the Global Magnitsky Act. Unfortunate fact is – until now, not a single American politician has come under such sanctions despite the fact of their proven record of indulging in rampant corruption.

The Magnitsky Act, formally known as the Russia and Moldova Jackson–Vanik Repeal and Sergei Magnitsky Rule of Law Accountability Act of 2012, is a bipartisan bill passed by the US Congress and signed into law by President Barack Obama in December 2012, intending to punish Russian officials responsible for the death of Russian tax lawyer Sergei Magnitsky in a Moscow prison in 2009 and also to grant permanent normal trade relations status to Russia.

The Global Magnitsky Act of 2016 within the NDAA 2017 authorizes the US government to sanction those foreign government officials worldwide that are human rights offenders, freeze their assets, and ban them from entering the US.

In June 2012, the United States House Committee on Foreign Affairs reported to the House a bill called the Sergei Magnitsky Rule of Law Accountability Act of 2012 (House Resolution 4405). The main intention of the law was to punish Russian officials who were thought to be responsible for the death of Sergei Magnitsky by prohibiting their entrance to the United States and their use of its banking system. 

The legislation was taken up by a Senate panel the next week, sponsored by Senator Ben Cardin, and cited in a broader review of the mounting tensions in the international relationship. Browder later wrote that the Magnitsky Act found quick bipartisan support because the corruption exposed by Magnitsky was blatant beyond dispute, and “[t]here wasn’t a pro-Russian-torture-and-murder lobby to oppose it”.

Meaning, the Global Magnitsky Act originated from the case of Sergei Magnitsky, who was arrested on charges of corruption and reportedly had developed gallstones, pancreatitis and calculous cholecystitis and was not given medical treatment in Russian jail for months. After almost a year of imprisonment, Magnitsky was beaten to death while in custody.

The Obama administration fought the bill until Congress signaled the 2012 Jackson–Vanick bill would not be repealed unless the Magnitsky Act passed. In November 2012, provisions of the Magnitsky bill were attached to a House bill (House Resolution 6156) normalizing trade with Russia (i.e., repealing the Jackson–Vanik amendment) and Moldova. On December 6, 2012, the US Senate passed the House version of the law, 92–4. The law was signed by President Barack Obama on December 14, 2012.

Meaning, this law was formulated initially to target Russians and had been later used in targeting various individuals and organizations in other countries. But this law has never been used on any American citizen. Why?

It can be said, corruption is a much bigger challenge to most of the countries in the world due to its impact on the economy, society, politics, and the global community. But it is not true that only individuals and organizations outside the United States are corrupted while Americans are angels. We know from the recent media reports how the US President Joe Biden and members of his family are using their official position in making tons of cash through manipulation and corruption. Still they enjoy stunning impunity.

American politicians continue to lecture the world stating, addressing corruption requires a multi-faceted approach, including strengthening institutional capacity, promoting transparency and accountability, and empowering civil society. They also say it requires a commitment from governments, the private sector, and the international community to work together to combat corruption and promote good governance.

But none of these theories or rules are ever applied to the American politicians, including President Joe Biden, his son, brother and other members of the Biden family.Indeed, corruption is a bigger monster than terrorism and militancy. But anti-corruption laws should be equally applicable to every corrupt individual and organization throughout the world – including the United States. Unless it can be done – Washington shall continue to use the Global Magnitsky Act against its rivals – simply as a political tool.

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Salah Uddin Shoaib Choudhury
Salah Uddin Shoaib Choudhury
Salah Uddin Shoaib Choudhury is an internationally acclaimed multi-award-winning anti-militancy journalist, writer, research-scholar, counterterrorism specialist and editor of Weekly Blitz. Follow him on Twitter @Salah_Shoaib


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