Posts Tagged ‘Magnitsky’
Boris Nemtsov, the Russian politician, was assassinated near the Kremlin on 27 February 2015.
Sergei Magnitsky, a Russian lawyer, uncovered the largest publicly-known corruption case in Russia involving the theft of $230 million, testified about it naming complicit officials. Sergei was arrested by some of the implicated officials, held for 358 days in pre-trial detention in torturous conditions, and killed in Russian police custody on 16 November 2009.
On the 6th anniversary of Sergei Magnitsky’s murder, 16 November 2015, the Sergei Magnitsky Human Rights Awards were launched. The first Sergei Magnitsky Award for Campaigning for Democracy was awarded posthumously to Boris Nemtsov.
Statement by Bill Browder on the Sergei Magnitsky 2015 Human Rights Award for Democracy to Boris Nemtsov (presented posthumously)
Boris Nemtsov was a courageous man, and a true friend of the Magnitsky Justice campaign. He was a steadfast supporter of our initiative to impose targeted Western sanctions on Russian officials involved in human rights abuse and corruption.
Boris shamed weak Western diplomats who tried to appease the Russian leader, because he was convinced that the sanctions are the necessary, effective and morally right way to stand up to Russian official impunity.
Both Boris and Sergei were optimists and believed in a brighter future for Russia. They show us that Russia produces great people with humanity and integrity.
Their loss is a tragedy for Russia and the world.
The fact that both were killed in cold blood, and in both cases those responsible have not been brought to account, is the call for action.
We cannot bring Boris and Sergei back, but we owe it to them to carry on with our cause, to seek justice in the form of further Magnitsky sanctions on corrupt officials and human rights violators by countries around the world.
Zhanna Nemtsova receives her father’s award at the ceremony in London
Boris Nemtsov, the Russian politician, assassinated near the Kremlin in late February this year, was posthumously awarded the Sergei Magnitsky 2015 Human Rights Prize for Democracy. The prize was received by his daughter Zhanna.
Winner of 2015 Sergei Magnitsky Award for Campaigning for Democracy: (Posthumously) Boris Nemtsov.
Boris Nemtsov, the Russian opposition leader, winner of the Sergei Magnitsky’s Campaigning for Democracy Award, was a friend of the Justice for Sergei Magnitsky campaign. Boris was one of the strongest voices advocating for the U.S. Magnitsky Act and the implementation of Magnitsky sanctions in Europe, calling them “the most powerful instrument of pressure on killers and cleptocrats.” (see at 27 min of Youtube video of Nemtsov’s interview.
On 27 February 2015, just two days before he was planning to lead on 1 March 2015 the “March Spring,” a large anti-Putin demonstration in Moscow to protest against the Russian war against Ukraine, and three hours after his live appearance at an independent radio station calling for his supporters to join him, Boris Nemtsov was assassinated next to the Kremlin.
In his last live interview, Boris Nemtsov stated his belief that a large showing of people at the demonstration he was planning to lead, could bring a political change in Russia. He said: “If many people come to demonstrate, this will bring change. This march could be a turnaround point. It could make Kremlin sober. And gradually we will be able to achieve a change in the political course.” (see at 44 min. Youtube video).
The Sergei Magnitsky’s Award for Campaigning for Democracy was received by Nemtsov’s daughter, Zhanna, and presented by Mikhail Khodorkovsky, one of the longest serving political prisoners in modern Russia.
Boris Nemtsov calling for Justice for Sergei Magnitsky. Photo published by Ludmila Volkova on the 6th anniversary of Sergei Magnitsky’s death
263d day after the murder of Boris Nemtsov is marked on the 6th anniversary of Magnitsky’s death
Mark C. Toner
Deputy Department Spokesperson
U.S. Department of State
November 13, 2015
Six years ago, on November 16, 2009, Russian lawyer Sergey Magnitskiy died in a Moscow prison. An investigation by Russia’s Presidential Human Rights Council found that Magnitskiy had been severely beaten in prison and members of the Council said his death resulted from the beatings and “torture” by police officials.
Sergey Magnitskiy was arrested after uncovering corruption by Russian officials, spent a year in pre-trial detention before his death, and was posthumously convicted for the crimes he himself uncovered.
The anniversary of Sergey Magnitskiy’s death is a reminder of the human cost of injustice. Those responsible for his unjust imprisonment and wrongful death remain free, despite widely-publicized and credible evidence of their guilt. We salute Sergey Magnitskiy’s memory and those who work to uncover corruption and promote human rights in Russia despite official intimidation and harassment.
In honor of Sergey Magnitskiy, we will continue to fully support the efforts of those who seek to bring these individuals to justice, including through implementation of the Sergei Magnitskiy Rule of Law Accountability Act of 2012.
U.S. Senator Ben Cardin (D-MD), Ranking Member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and author of the Sergei Magnitsky Rule of Law Accountability Act (Public Law 112-208), issued a statement ahead of the sixth anniversary of Sergei Magnitsky’s murder.
“November 16th marks the sixth anniversary of the brutal death of Sergei Magnitsky, the courageous voice against Russian corruption who was imprisoned and tortured in a Russian prison for 358 days before his death. On this anniversary, we must remember the principles of truth, justice, and the rule of law that drove Sergei, a 37-year-old tax lawyer, husband and father working for an American firm in Moscow, to expose the largest known tax fraud in Russian history.
As we honor Sergei’s life, we must recommit ourselves to supporting human rights and the rule of law globally despite an ever more dangerous space for independent voices and civil society in far too many nations.”
Senator Cardin is the author of the Global Magnitsky Human Rights Accountability Act, a bill that would ensure human rights abusers and corrupt officials worldwide are denied entry into the United States and barred from using our financial institutions. The bill was approved by the Senate Foreign Relations Committee in July. The legislation would expand the Russia-specific sanctions in the Sergei Magnitsky Rule of Law Accountability Act (Public Law 112-208) and apply it globally.
Global Post. Agence France-Presse on Nov 13, 2015 @ 9:24 PM
The United States lamented Russia’s failure Friday to punish those responsible for the death of lawyer Sergei Magnitsky, on the sixth anniversary of his murky demise in a Moscow jail.
Magnitsky died aged 37 after trying to expose the alleged embezzlement from investment fund Hermitage Capital of $230 million by figures linked to Russian political circles.
He was arrested in 2008 and died in prison in 2009 of an untreated illness that Russia’s own presidential human rights council said was “provoked by beating.”
The wider Hermitage case is now a notorious international scandal, but six years later no-one in Russia has been held to account for Magnitsky’s death.
“The anniversary of Sergei Magnitsky’s death is a reminder of the human cost of injustice,” US State Department deputy spokesman Mark Toner said.
“Those responsible for his unjust imprisonment and wrongful death remain free, despite widely publicized and credible evidence of their guilt,” he said.
“We salute Sergei Magnitsky’s memory and those who work to uncover corruption and promote human rights in Russia, despite official intimidation and harassment.
“We will continue to fully support the efforts of those who seek to bring these individuals to justice, including through implementation of the Sergei Magnitsky Rule of Law Accountability Act of 2012.”
The Magnitsky Act targets named Russian individuals accused of a role in the Hermitage scandal, prohibiting them from traveling to the United States or using US banks.
On the eve of the 6th anniversary of the murder of Russian anti-corruption lawyer Sergei Magnitsky, the Justice for Sergei Magnitsky campaign is launching the ‘Sergei Magnitsky Human Rights Awards.’
The awards will celebrate international politicians, journalists and civil society activists who have worked in the spirit of Sergei Magnitsky — with faith, strength and integrity, to reinforce and advance his legacy, and bring about significant change in the international justice and human rights field.
The winners of the 2015 Sergei Magnitsky Human Rights Awards will be announced next week, on Monday, 16 November 2015, marking the 6th anniversary of Sergei Magnitsky’s death in Russian police custody at the age of 37.
The organising committee of the Global Sergei Magnitsky Human Rights Awards this year consists of activists from major international organizations, including Transparency International, The Henry Jackson Society, Fair Trials International, the Central and Eastern European Council of Canada, and the British Parliament’s All-Party Group on Anti-Corruption.
The Sergei Magnitsky Human Rights Awards will be given in 9 categories, including Outstanding Investigative Journalism; Top Campaigning US Politician, Top European Politician; Best Human Rights NGO; Outstanding Contribution to the Global Magnitsky Campaign; Outstanding Coverage of Magnitsky Case in Britain and in Europe; the Best Human Rights Lawyer; and the Top Campaigner for Democracy.
“Sergei Magnitsky’s impact on the world has only gained in significance in the years after his death. We hope that the Sergei Magnitsky Human Rights Awards will serve as a beacon of support for all those who fight injustice around the world,” said Sergei Magnitsky’s mother Nataliya.
In March, the House of Commons unanimously adopted my motion calling for sanctions against individual human-rights violators, including those complicit in the 2009 detention, torture and murder of Russian whistle-blower Sergei Magnitsky. With just weeks until Parliament rises for the summer, however, the government is running out of time to act upon that expression of laudable intent.
Mr. Magnitsky was a Moscow lawyer who uncovered widespread corruption on the part of Russian officials. After testifying against them, he was jailed, tortured and killed in prison in 2009, before being posthumously convicted – in a Kafkaesque coverup – of the very fraud he had exposed.
Since his death, his former employer, Bill Browder, has been advocating for sanctions such as travel bans and asset freezes against those responsible, who would otherwise not be held to account in Vladimir Putin’s Russia. Indeed, many have been rewarded by President Putin for their criminality.
Yet because corrupt Russian officials tend to store and spend the proceeds of their crimes beyond the country’s borders – depositing their money in foreign banks, vacationing at foreign resorts, sending their children to foreign schools – the international community has the power to impose tangible consequences by curtailing their ability to travel and trade around the world.
This approach has notably won the endorsement of the European Parliament and legislatures in Britain, the Netherlands, Italy, the United States and now Canada. As yet, however, only the United States has taken action: Congress imposed sanctions against Mr. Magnitsky’s tormentors in 2012, and is currently studying a new bill that would expand those sanctions to cover human-rights violators generally.
The motion adopted by Canadian MPs – and more recently by the Senate, as well – both specifically endorses sanctions in the Magnitsky case, and urges the government to “explore sanctions as appropriate against any foreign nationals responsible for violations of internationally recognized human rights in a foreign country, when authorities in that country are unable or unwilling to conduct a thorough, independent and objective investigation of the violations.”
Accordingly, Tuesday, I introduced a private member’s bill that would explicitly authorize the Canadian government to impose visa bans and asset freezes on human-rights violators. Although my bill is unlikely to be adopted before the House rises, I offer it as a template for how the motion passed by the House and the Senate could be enacted in law. There is still time for the government to either take over my bill or to introduce similar legislation of its own, out of respect for the unanimous will of Canadian MPs, and out of solidarity with the victims of human-rights violations in Russia and around the world.
These victims – and the courageous activists who stand up to rights-violating regimes at great personal risk – were on my mind when I rose Tuesday in the House to present my legislation. In particular, I could almost feel the presence of my late friend Boris Nemtsov, the leader of the democratic Russian opposition who was murdered near the Kremlin earlier this year.
In 2012, I joined him in Ottawa to condemn the impunity, corruption and human-rights violations of the Putin regime, of which the Magnitsky tragedy is a case study, and to issue an urgent appeal for global Magnitsky legislation.
Mr. Nemtsov supported the sanctions that Canada has rightly imposed in response to Russian aggression in Ukraine, although there remain key Russian officials who have been spared Canadian sanctions. It is time, however, for us to treat Russian domestic human-rights violations as seriously as we do violations of political independence and territorial integrity. Had we acted in 2012 against Russian violations, for example, we might have helped deter the external aggression that followed.
Ultimately, countries that value human rights and the rule of law must use the measures at our disposal to hold violators to account and discourage future violations. Otherwise, we are exposed as having far less concern for these noble principles than our usual rhetoric – including a motion unanimously adopted by the House of Commons – would suggest.
Irwin Cotler is the Liberal MP for Mount Royal, former justice minister and attorney-general of Canada, and professor of law emeritus at McGill University. He is chairman of the Justice for Sergei Magnitsky Inter-Parliamentary Group.
Government declared support for human rights sanctions in March, but has yet to take action
MP Irwin Cotler today introduced the Global Magnitsky Human Rights Accountability Act (C-689), which would allow for the imposition of travel bans and asset freezes against human rights violators. In March, the House of Commons unanimously endorsed a motion by Cotler calling for such sanctions, and a similar motion introduced by Sen. Raynell Andreychuk passed the Senate in May, but the government has yet to heed Parliament’s call.
“I was very encouraged when members of all parties came together earlier this spring to support these critical measures,” said Cotler, the Liberal Critic for Rights and Freedoms and International Justice. “But it is deeply disappointing that the government still hasn’t moved forward with legislation.”
Magnitsky laws are named for Russian lawyer Sergei Magnitsky, who blew the whistle on large-scale tax fraud committed by Russian officials before being detained, tortured, and killed in prison in 2009. He was posthumously convicted, in a Kafkaesque cover-up, of the very corruption he had exposed.
Continued Cotler: “In Ottawa in 2012, I stood with Boris Nemtsov, the leader of Russia’s democratic opposition, to call for Magnitsky legislation; Boris was murdered in February. In 2013, I stood in Ottawa with Sergei Magnitsky’s last employer, Bill Browder, and with another Russian opposition leader, Vladimir Kara Murza, to make the same appeal; Bill has been repeatedly threatened, and Vladimir is recovering from an apparent poisoning. What else has to happen before Canada and other members of the international community take action commensurate with the seriousness of the situation?”
Resolutions calling for Magnitsky sanctions have been passed by the European Parliament, the Parliamentary Assembly of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe, and legislatures in the United Kingdom, the Netherlands, Italy, the United States, and Canada. When the Canadian motion passed the House, MPs and Senators from all parties – including the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Foreign Affairs, David Anderson – held a joint press conference to mark the occasion. Thus far, however, only the U.S. has moved from words to deeds.
“There is still time for the government to either take over my bill or pass similar legislation of its own,” urged Cotler, “both out of respect for the will of Parliament, and out of solidarity with the victims of human rights violations – and those who struggle valiantly on their behalf – in Russia and around the world.”