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”.