By U.S. MISSION LIBERIA
6 MINUTE READ
DECEMBER 8, 2023
Today, the U.S. Department of the Treasury Office of Foreign Asset Control (OFAC) designated Jefferson Koijee (Koijee), who is the mayor of Monrovia, Liberia and is a senior leader in the Congress for Democratic Change (CDC) political party. Koijee has a reputation for stoking violence and has a powerful grip on Monrovia’s youth. He controls paramilitary-style organizations associated with the CDC which allegedly recruits former combatants and recently released prisoners. OFAC has reason to believe that Koijee has instructed these organizations to violently disrupt demonstrations conducted by government critics or political opposition. Koijee and his supporters have been involved in violence in connection with: an opposition rally in July 2022, students attending a memorial service for former Liberian president Amos Sawyer in March 2022, an anti-rape protest in August 2020, a student graduation ceremony in December 2019, and an opposition rally in November 2018. Koijee has also engaged in corrupt acts, including bribery and misappropriation of state assets for use by private political movements and pressuring anti-corruption investigators to halt corruption investigations.
Koijee is being designated for being a foreign person who is responsible for or complicit in, or who has directly or indirectly engaged in, serious human rights abuse and for being a foreign person who is a current or former government official, or a person acting for or on behalf of such an official, who is responsible for or complicit in, or who has directly or indirectly engaged in, corruption, including the misappropriation of state assets, the expropriation of private assets for personal gain, corruption related to government contracts or the extraction of natural resources, or bribery pursuant to E.O. 13818.
As a result of today’s actions, all property and interests in property of the designated persons described above that are in the United States or in the possession or control of U.S. persons are blocked and must be reported to OFAC. In addition, any entities that are owned, directly or indirectly, individually or in the aggregate, 50 percent or more by one or more blocked persons are also blocked. Unless authorized by a general or specific license issued by OFAC, or exempt, OFAC’s regulations generally prohibit all transactions by U.S. persons or within (or transiting) the United States that involve any property or interests in property of designated or otherwise blocked persons.
In addition, financial institutions and other persons that engage in certain transactions or activities with the sanctioned entities and individuals may expose themselves to sanctions or be subject to an enforcement action. The prohibitions include the making of any contribution or provision of funds, goods, or services by, to, or for the benefit of any designated person, or the receipt of any contribution or provision of funds, goods, or services from any such person.
The power and integrity of OFAC sanctions derive not only from OFAC’s ability to designate and add persons to the Specially Designated Nationals and Blocked Persons (SDN) List, but also from its willingness to remove persons from the SDN List consistent with the law. The ultimate goal of sanctions is not to punish, but to bring about a positive change in behavior.
For example, the Department of the Treasury notes recent attempts by the Uganda Prisons Service to implement human rights-related measures, but these measures fall short. Should Byabashaija implement effective measures to eliminate torture and impunity, increase independent human rights monitoring, ban forced anal examinations and other forms of abuse used to target LGBTQI+ persons and others, ensure protections for vulnerable persons and groups, and improve overall prison conditions, the Department of the Treasury will consider those to be changes of behavior that would potentially result in his removal from the SDN List.
For information concerning the process for seeking removal from an OFAC list, including the SDN List, please refer to OFAC’s Frequently Asked Question 897 here . For detailed information on the process to submit a request for removal from an OFAC sanctions list, please click here .
Building upon the Global Magnitsky Human Rights Accountability Act, E.O. 13818 was issued on December 20, 2017, in recognition that the prevalence of human rights abuse and corruption that have their source, in whole or in substantial part, outside the United States, had reached such scope and gravity as to threaten the stability of international political and economic systems. Human rights abuse and corruption undermine the values that form an essential foundation of stable, secure, and functioning societies; have devastating impacts on individuals; weaken democratic institutions; degrade the rule of law; perpetuate violent conflicts; facilitate the activities of dangerous persons; and undermine economic markets. The United States seeks to impose tangible and significant consequences on those who commit serious human rights abuse or engage in corruption, as well as to protect the financial system of the United States from abuse by these same persons.