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19.11.2012

Magnitsky Act passed by US House. Ukraine next in line?

   

On 16 November the US House of Representatives passed the Sergei Mag­nit­sky Rule of Law Account­abil­ity Act (365 in favour, 43 against).  The Heritage Foundation which Sergei Magnitsky worked for has campaigned for such sanctions which were passed on the third anniversary of the lawyer’s death in a Russian SIZO [remand prison].

It states that “the bill cre­ates tar­geted sanc­tions for the offi­cials involved in the case of Sergei Mag­nit­sky as well as other gross human rights abuse in Russia.

“The Sergei Mag­nit­sky Rule of Law Account­abil­ity Act imposes assets freezes and visa bans on those who was respon­si­ble for the deten­tion, abuse or death of Sergei Mag­nit­sky, finan­cially ben­e­fit­ted from his deten­tion or abuse, con­cealed their legal lia­bil­ity, or was involved in the crim­i­nal con­spir­acy uncov­ered by Sergei Mag­nit­sky, as well on those respon­si­ble for extra­ju­di­cial killings, tor­ture and gross vio­la­tions of human rights of whistle-blowers and activists.

Within 120 days of enact­ment, the Act requires the Depart­ments of State and Trea­sury to com­pile, pub­lish, and report on a list of these per­sons. Listed per­sons would be inel­i­gi­ble for entry into the United States, have any exist­ing visas revoked, and have their finan­cial assets frozen.

The Sergei Mag­nit­sky Rule of Law Account­abil­ity Act points out that no offi­cials have been brought to trial for Magnitsky’s “false arrest or for the crime he had uncov­ered, ” notes “the impunity since his death of state offi­cials he tes­ti­fied against for their involve­ment in cor­rup­tion and the car­ry­ing out of his repres­sive per­se­cu­tion, ” and says:

“The sys­tem­atic abuse of Sergei Mag­nit­sky, includ­ing his repres­sive arrest and tor­ture in cus­tody by offi­cers of the Min­istry of the Inte­rior of the Russ­ian Fed­er­a­tion that Mr. Mag­nit­sky had impli­cated in the embez­zle­ment of funds from the Russ­ian Trea­sury and the mis­ap­pro­pri­a­tion of 3 com­pa­nies from his client, reflects how deeply the pro­tec­tion of human rights is affected by corruption.”

MEP from the German Greens Rebecca Harms told the Deutsche Welle Ukrainian Service that the European Union is seriously thinking about introducing such sanctions with respect to representatives of the Ukrainian authorities.  This possibility was also confirmed by Elmar Brok from the European People’s People.  He said that during negotiations on visa liberalization, “one cannot avoid those people who bear responsibility for selective justice in Ukraine”. 

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