The U.S. State Department this week barred an Albanian mayor and a Zimbabwean official from entering the country, citing their involvement in corruption and human rights abuses, respectively.
The actions were carried out under a new law adopted by Congress last year, which mandates that the State Department bar entry to the United States of foreign officials involved in significant corruption or gross violations of human rights.
Vangjush Dako, mayor of Durres, Albania, was publicly designated Tuesday by the U.S. due to his involvement in significant corruption, the State Department said. In addition, the U.S. designated his spouse, Alba, and his two children, Xhulio and Kejsi.
Dako didn’t answer questions from journalists about the ban, according to a report in English-language Albanian media. Dako was at the center of a scandal known as “Albanian Electiongate,” in which he and other officials purportedly colluded with criminal groups to buy votes in 2017 general elections, the report said.
The U.S. has imposed visa bans on two other Albanian officials: Tom Doshi, a member of parliament, and former general prosecutor Adriatik Llalla were previously barred from entering the U.S. over corruption issues.
Separately, on Thursday, the State Department publicly designated Anselem Nhamo Sanyatwe, an ambassador designate of Zimbabwe to Tanzania and former commander of the army’s Presidential Guard Brigade, due to his involvement in human rights violations. The U.S. has credible information that Sanyatwe was involved in a violent crackdown against unarmed Zimbabweans during post-election protests on Aug. 1, 2018, that resulted in six deaths. The State Department also designated Sanyatwe’s spouse, Chido Machona, in the action.
Zimbabwe’s government hasn’t held any members of the security forces accountable for the violence that day, the State Department said. Nor have security forces faced any punishment for violence on civilians earlier this year that resulted in at least 13 deaths and more than 1,000 arrests, the department said.
The announcement marked the first U.S. sanctions action against a Zimbabwean government official since the fall of the Robert Mugabe government in late 2017.