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04.05.2012

British Government takes first steps to impose Magnitsky sanctions

   

The UK For­eign and Com­mon­wealth Office has unveiled a new piece of leg­is­la­tion which would ban entry into the UK of for­eign nation­als who have been involved in tor­ture, mur­der or other human rights abuses. The leg­is­la­tion was inspired by the case of Sergei Mag­nit­sky, a Russ­ian whistle-blowing lawyer who was tor­tured to death in Russ­ian police cus­tody two and a half years ago. The For­eign and Com­mon­wealth Office said the case of Sergei Mag­nit­sky remains “unre­solved, ” and no one has been brought to jus­tice either for his tor­ture and death or for the cor­rup­tion he had uncovered.

The new leg­is­la­tion was announced by the UK For­eign Office in the 2011 Human Rights and Democ­racy Report pub­lished yes­ter­day (http://fcohrdreport.readandcomment.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/02/Cm-8339.pdf).
“Where there is inde­pen­dent, reli­able and cred­i­ble evi­dence that an indi­vid­ual has com­mit­ted human rights abuses, the indi­vid­ual will not nor­mally be per­mit­ted to enter the United King­dom, ” said the UK For­eign Office in the report.

Com­ment­ing on the prob­lem of access to jus­tice and the rule of law in Rus­sia, the For­eign Office made the fol­low­ing com­ment on the Mag­nit­sky case:
“In July [2011], the Pres­i­den­tial Coun­cil on Human Rights pub­lished a report which found that Sergei Magnitsky…had been denied med­ical treat­ment and beaten while in deten­tion, con­tribut­ing directly to his death. Before his arrest, Mr Mag­nit­sky had been work­ing to uncover an alleged tax fraud against the Russ­ian state by cer­tain Russ­ian law-enforcement offi­cials, a num­ber of whom are alleged them­selves to have been involved in the inves­ti­ga­tion and deten­tion of Mr Magnitsky…To date, no one has been held account­able for Mr Magnitsky’s death while in cus­tody of the Russ­ian state.”

The UK ini­tia­tive to ban human rights offend­ers came a month after the British Parliament’s Bankbench Com­mit­tee held a debate on March 7, 2012 dis­cussing whether the British Gov­ern­ment should imple­ment visa sanc­tions and asset freezes on the Russ­ian offi­cials who were involved in the crimes against Sergei Mag­nit­sky. Over 40 MPs from all major polit­i­cal par­ties voted unan­i­mously in favor of this proposal.

“This is a good first step in the UK. It is impor­tant that the British Gov­ern­ment now names the names of those banned offi­cials and also freezes their assets as is being pro­posed in the US. The British gov­ern­ment would also be a nat­ural leader to pro­mote these mea­sures in the EU, ” said a Her­mitage Cap­i­tal rep­re­sen­ta­tive.
The leg­isla­tive ini­tia­tive in the UK is the lat­est break­through in the global cam­paign for jus­tice run by col­leagues of the late Mr Mag­nit­sky. Sergei Mag­nit­sky, a 37-year Russ­ian lawyer, who had exposed $230 mil­lion gov­ern­ment cor­rup­tion, was arrested, tor­tured and killed in Russ­ian police cus­tody. No one has been pros­e­cuted for this crime, and all law enforce­ment offi­cials involved have been exon­er­ated. In an unprece­dented twist, the Russ­ian gov­ern­ment recently launched a posthu­mous pros­e­cu­tion of Mr Mag­nit­sky him­self, the first in Russ­ian legal history.

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