“Human rights abuses and corruption in countries with poor legal and judicial systems often go unpunished but that shouldn’t result in the perpetrators not facing sanctions by the European Union,” said Fianna Fáil MEP, Billy Kelleher.

“The EU cannot force 3rd countries to prosecute human rights abuses, but if we can get agreement on an EU-wide ‘Magnitsky Act’ it would give Member States the authority to impose sanctions on persons committing or responsible for such abuses.

“The Magnitsky Act, a piece of legislation in the United States, is named after Sergei Magnitsky, a Russian attorney who died in a Russian prison after attempting to expose a $230 million corruption scandal. Under the Act, the US government can refuse entry and freeze the assets of persons associated with such abuses.

“Last December, the High Representative for Foreign Affairs, Joseph Borrell said that the EU’s External Action Service was preparing documents to implement an EU wide act of the same nature as the Magnitsky Act.

“This, I believe, is a priority for the EU, but it will require unanimous support of the European Council. The next Irish Government, whoever leads it, must give this proposal their full support.

“The EU is founded on strong values and principles of respecting and protecting human rights. The Union must take a stance that breaches of these values will not be tolerated within or outside of the EU. Those engaging in human rights abuses or corruption cannot enjoy ease of travel within the Union or have access to their ill-gotten gains,” concluded the Renew Europe MEP.