Representative Malinowski Introduces the Saudi Arabia Accountability for Gross Violations of Human Rights Act

March 1, 2021
Press Release

(Washington, DC) Today, Representatives Tom Malinowski (NJ-07), James P. McGovern (MA-02), and Andy Kim (NJ-03) introduced the Saudi Arabia Accountability for Gross Violations of Human Rights Act. Following the Director of National Intelligence report on the targeted assassination of Washington Post journalist Jamal Khashoggi, the bill ensures that travel sanctions are applied equally to all identified complicit parties—including Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman. Find the text of the bill here.

Full application of visa sanctions would ensure that, having identified Mohammed bin Salman as the author of Khashoggi’s murder, the United States also holds him accountable. It would also bring the United States in line with existing law and Congressional intent. First, Section 7031(c) of the Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2021 already requires that “officials of foreign governments and their immediate family members about whom the Secretary of State has credible information have been involved, directly or indirectly, in… a gross violation of human rights shall be ineligible for entry into the United States.” Second, the Saudi Arabia Human Rights and Accountability Act of 2019, which the House of Representatives passed 405-7, imposed the same visa prohibition on all parties linked to Khashoggi’s murder. 

The bill would: 

  1. Prohibit travel to the United States by all parties named in the ODNI’s Khashoggi report. The president could waive this prohibition only by publicly notifying Congress 15 days in advance of issuing a visa.
  2. Require the State Department to report regularly on whether Saudi government actions trigger an existing statutory prohibition on arms sales to countries that harass and intimidate people in the U.S.
  3. Trigger regular reporting on United States association with Saudi government abuses each time the State Department concurs on joint military activities or arms transfers. 

“I applaud the Biden Administration for naming MBS as Khashoggi’s killer, but it undercuts our message to Saudi Arabia if we accuse him of the crime and then do nothing to hold him accountable, said Rep. Malinowski. "The law is clear that the Secretary of State must apply a visa ban on persons he knows are linked to gross human rights abuses—exactly what the Khashoggi report lays out. Our bill makes this doubly clear, and reminds the world that in America, no one, whether a president or a prince, is above the law."

“There must be consequences for the murder of Jamal Khashoggi. Such a heinous crime must not be met with impunity. This legislation is an important first step in ensuring that those responsible are named and held accountable,” said Rep. McGovern. “I believe more can and should be done, including ending U.S. arms sales and security aid to the Saudi government. I look forward to working with Representative Malinowski to swiftly advance this important bill.”  

“This bill sends a clear and necessary signal to the Crown Prince that his responsibility for the murder of Jamal Khashoggi won’t be without consequences. These actions demand accountability. If our government fails to act, we send a message to our allies and our enemies that America’s values and interests can be ignored and trampled,” said Rep. Kim.

Read Rep Malinowski’s joint statement with Senate Appropriations Chair Senator Patrick Leahy here. Read Rep Malinowski’s statement on the ODNI statement here.