Parliamentary Motions, Resolutions & Laws
Countries around the world have been passing motions, resolutions and laws in support of the visa ban and asset freeze initiative in order to punish the Russian government officials who played a role in the false arrest, torture and death of Sergei Magnitsky, as well as those who are covering up the crimes against him and the US$230 million tax theft he exposed.
In June 2009, Bill Browder testified before the US Helsinki Commission Chaired by Senator Benjamin Cardin. In May 2010, Bill Browder also testified before the Tom Lantos Human Rights Commission. Following Sergei Magnitsky’s death in November 2009, and with a complete lack of justice available for Sergei in Russia, the US Congress has taken the lead in supporting attempts to punish those responsible for Sergei’s false arrest, torture, denial of medical treatment and death in custody.
In May 2011, Senator Cardin submitted the “Sergei Magnitsky Rule of Law Accountability Act of 2011” to the Senate. The new bill follows on from the previous “Justice for Sergei Magnitsky Act of 2010”. However, the new version of the law also applies sanctions to Russian officials who participated in the cover-up of those individuals who tortured and killed Mr. Magnitsky. This act now has 29 co-sponsors in the Senate.
In addition, the new Magnitsky Act has taken a dramatic and more global approach to the legislation in that it will allow the sanctions to apply to all those who are involved in killings, gross abuse and torture of human rights activists, journalists, anti corruption whistleblowers and other fighters for democracy and rule of law, across the world.
On 19th April 2012, Congressman James McGovern introduced the ‘Sergei Magnitsky Rule of Law Accountability Act of 2012′ (H.R 4405). This law would deny visas to the people “responsible for the detention, abuse, or death of Sergei Magnitsky, participated in related liability concealment efforts, financially benefited from Sergei Magnitsky’s detention, abuse, or death, or was involved in the criminal conspiracy uncovered by Sergei Magnitsky.”
And like the Senate version of the Magnitsky Act, it would also ban visas to people responsible for extrajudicial killings, torture, or other human rights violators. The bill also calls for their assets to be frozen.
On 16 November 2012, the day of the third anniversary of Sergei Magnitsky’s death in custody, the U.S House of Representatives approved the Sergei Magnitsky Rule of Law Accountability Act imposing visa bans and asset freezes on officials responsible for the ill-treatment and death of Mr. Magnitsky, who benefited from these crimes, who concealed those responsible and who were involved in the crimes he had uncovered as well as other gross abuses of rights of whistle-blowers and human rights defenders with an overwhelming bipartisan support (365 in favour, 43 against).
On the 6 December 2012, the US Senate approved, with overwhelming bi-partisan support (92 to 4), the same Magnitsky Law passed by the House a few weeks earlier. The Magnitsky Law was passed as part of a broader piece of legislation called the, the ‘Russia and Moldova Jackson-Vanik Repeal and Sergei Magnitsky Rule of Law Accountability Act of 2012’, which normalizes trade relations with Russia following its entry to the World Trade Organisation.
The European Parliament has twice passed resolutions on the Magnitsky case, calling on all EU member states to impose visa sanctions and asset freezes on the Russian government officials involved in the false arrest, torture and death of Magnitsky.
In December 2010, a resolution was passed with an overwhelming majority of 318 in favour and 163 against (with 95 abstentions). The European Parliament called upon EU member states to consider imposing entry bans on the Russian officials who played a direct role in the Magnitsky case. The European Parliament also called on EU law enforcement agencies to cooperate in freezing bank accounts and other assets of these Russian officials in all EU Member States.
In December 2011, the European Parliament strongly condemned the impunity of Russian officials involved in the false arrest, torture and murder of the Russian anti-corruption lawyer Sergei Magnitsky and has moved to create consequences for the Russian bureaucrats involved in the cover-up. In a strongly worded resolution, the European parliament vowed to impose EU-wide visa and asset freezes should the Russian authorities fail to prosecute the officials complicit in Magnitsky’s death and extend these sanctions to those Russian officials involved in the on-going cover up in this case. The European Parliament insists that high-level Russian officials in the Magnitsky case should not escape prosecution if the Russian probe is to have any credibility in the West.
On the 23rd October 2012, the European Parliament recommended that the Council of the European Union impose sanctions against Russian officials involved in the incarceration of Moscow lawyer Sergei Magnitsky, who died in pre-trial detention in 2009. Kristiina Ojuland MEP, who is the ALDE spokeswoman on Russia and the rapporteur on the Magnitsky Law, spearheaded the drive to have the Council impose visa restrictions on Russian officials included in the Magnitsky List.
In November 2010, the Canadian Parliament followed the United States by proposing similar legislation to the “Justice for Sergei Magnitsky Act” which was presented as a Private Member’s Bill by the Hon. Irwin Cotler MP, to the Canadian House of Commons. Irwin Cotler is a former Canadian Justice Minister and former lawyer to Nelson Mandela. The new draft legislation would require the Canadian Government to deny entry to the Russian officials in the Magnitsky case and their family members.
The Canadian Bill is entitled “An Act to Condemn Corruption and Impunity in Russia in the Case and Death of Sergei Magnitsky”
In December 2010, an Early Day Motion was submitted to the UK Parliament by former Foreign Minister Chris Bryant MP. This motion was signed by 22 fellow Mps.
In March 2012, led by Conservative Party member Dominic Raab, and co-sponsored by five former Foreign Ministers, including three former Secretaries of State (Sir Malcolm Rifkind, Jack Straw, David Miliband), a motion was unanimously passed in the British House of Commons calling on the government to impose visa sanctions and asset freezes on the Russian officials who falsely arrested, tortured and killed Sergei Magnitsky and then covered up the crime. Forty British MPs from all major political parties voted unanimously in favor of the motion entitled “Human Rights Abuses and the Death of Sergei Magnitsky”.
In July 2011, the Dutch parliament, by a unanimous vote of 150 to 0, passed a resolution demanding that the Dutch government impose visa and economic sanctions on the Russian officials who were responsible for the false arrest, torture and death of 37-year old anti-corruption lawyer Sergei Magnitsky. The Sergei Magnitsky motion in the Dutch parliament was supported by deputies from both ruling and opposition parties. In addition to Mr Çörüz (Christian Democrats), the motion was co-sponsored by Mr Joël Voordewind (Christian Union), Mr Han Ten Broeke (Liberal Party), and Mr Kees van der Staaij (Dutch Reformed Party). Senior Dutch lawmaker Frans Timmermans also voted for the resolution.
59 Swedish members of the Parliament from seven of the eight political parties signed a parliamentary petition to Swedish Prime Minister, Fredrik Reinfeldt, calling on him to impose EU-wide visa sanctions on Russian officials in the Magnitsky case. The parliamentarians stress it is a matter of international importance given Russia’s membership in the Council of Europe and WTO. The petition was initiated by Mats Johansson, from the ruling Moderate Party, along with Olle Thorell, a foreign affairs spokesperson from Social Democrats party, and Kerstin Lundgren, from the Centre Party.
In December 2010, lead by Polish MP, Ryszard Kalisz, Chairman of the Justice and Human Rights Committee of the Polish Sejm, a vote was held condemning the lack of proper investigation into Magnitsky’s death. The motion was passed unanimously by members of the committee. Ryszard Kalisz is the former Polish Minister of Internal Affairs and Administration.
Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe
On 7 August 2009, the Special Rapporteur for the Committee of Legal Affairs and Human Rights of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe, Sabine Leutheusser-Schnarrrenberger, issued a report entitled: “Allegations of Politically Motivated Abuses of the Criminal Justice System in Council of Europe Member States”. Approved by a unanimous vote by the Parliamentary Assembly, the report describes how the Hermitage case, and the imprisonment of Sergei Magnitsky as a hostage, is emblematic of legal nihilism and the politically-motivated abuse of the Russian justice system. In addition, it summarizes the attacks and intimidation against Sergei and the other lawyers acting for HSBC/Hermitage in Russia through the use of police searches, questioning, arrest and imprisonment.
In February 2012, 53 representatives at the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) from 29 countries co-signed the “Sergei Magnitsky Case” Declaration No.49 which urges Russia to immediately prosecute the killers of Sergei Magnitsky, a 37-year old Russian anti-corruption lawyer.
In the written declaration published on the PACE website, PACE representatives also call upon the Russian authorities to cease the intimidation of Magnitsky’s family and to allow the family to carry out an independent medical evaluation, which Russian investigators and courts have so far refused to do. This action was lead by Dutch MP, Pieter Omtzigt.
In May 2012, the Italian Parliament held a debate on the Magnitsky motion, giving one of the strongest condemnations yet of any European national parliament of Russia’s handling of the Magnitsky case. The Magnitsky motion was introduced by Matteo Mecacci, MP from Italy’s Democratic/Radical Party, and Chair of the Committee on Democracy, Human Rights and Humanitarian Questions at the OSCE Parliamentary Assembly.
Supported by representatives from five different parties in the Italian parliament, the motion calls for visa bans and asset freezes on the 60 Russian officials identified by the US Helsinki Commission for their role in the false arrest, torture and death of Sergei Magnitsky and the $230 million corruption he uncovered.
OSCE Parliamentary Assembly
In July 2012, the OSCE Parliamentary Assembly passed a resolution calling on all OSCE member states to impose visa sanctions and asset freezes on people who are responsible for the false arrest, torture and murder of Sergei Magnitsky, and the corruption he had uncovered. The OSCE Parliamentary Assembly brought together 320 members of parliament from 56 OSCE countries to discuss human rights, conflict prevention and promotion of democracy throughout OSCE countries. The resolution was approved by an overwhelming majority. Only 18 deputies voted against it and 11 abstained.
In the resolution, the OSCE Parliamentary Assembly stated that the harassment and torture of Sergei Magnitsky in custody was and remains politically motivated. The OSCE resolution expressed “regret” that the Russian authorities exonerated officials involved and deplored the posthumous prosecution launched against Magnitsky by the Russian government.
Joao Soares (Portugal), former president of the OSCE Parliamentary Assembly, introduced the resolution and 13 supporting speeches were made as well as one by Senator John McCain who spoke on behalf of the US Delegation to the OSCE PA.
Monaco Declaration (English)