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US hits ‘gross’ human rights violators in Russia, Pakistan with sanctions

U.S. Secretary of the Treasury Steven T. Mnuchin visiting Jet Blue's Long Island City Support Center to meet with the company's leadership and crew members Friday, March 9, 2018 in Queens, New York. (Kevin C. Downs/New York Daily News/TNS)

This article was originally published by Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty and is reprinted with permission.

The United States has sanctioned an official in Russia’s North Caucasus region of Chechnya, a Pakistani police officer, and 18 other individuals accused of involvement in “gross violations” of human rights.

The United States “will not tolerate torture, kidnapping, sexual violence, murder, or brutality against innocent civilians,” Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said in a statement on December 10, which marks International Human Rights Day.

The Treasury Department said that Aslan Iraskhanov — described as director of the Interior Ministry for Chechnya’s provincial capital, Grozny — and his immediate family members are now barred from entering the United States.

“In his prior position as the head of the A.A. Kadyrov police unit, Iraskhanov was credibly alleged to be responsible for‎ the summary execution of 27 men,” a statement said.

It said the Russian government “fails to take adequate steps to prosecute or punish officials” involved in “abuses and gross violations of human rights in Chechnya.”

Such abuses include “widespread patterns of extrajudicial killings, torture, enforced disappearances, and arbitrary detention by government authorities.”

In Pakistan, the Treasury imposed economic sanctions on Rao Anwar Khan for his reported role in “staging numerous fake police encounters in which individuals were killed by police.”

During his tenure as senior superintendent of police in the Malir district, Sindh Province, Anwar was said to have been “involved in over 190 police encounters that resulted in the deaths of over 400 people,” according to a statement.

It said he also “helped to lead a network of police and criminal thugs that were allegedly responsible for extortion, land grabbing, narcotics, and murder.”

The move freezes Anwar’s U.S. assets and criminalizes financial transactions with him by anyone in the United States.

The sanctions against Iraskhanov, Anwar, and 18 other government officials and businessmen in Burma, Libya, Slovakia, Congo, South Sudan, and Saudi Arabia were imposed under the 2012 Global Magnitsky Human Rights Accountability Act.