Press Release

February 28, 2012
Senator tells Secretary Clinton that human rights must be priority

WASHINGTON — U.S. Senator Ben Cardin (D-MD), Chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Subcommittee on International Development and Foreign Assistance, today urged Secretary of State Hillary Clinton to make human rights a priority in our dealings with Russia.

“In considering Permanent Normal Trade Relations (PNTR) for Russia, we must seize the opportunity to help advance the aspirations of the Russian people who are in the streets, demanding  greater freedoms,” said Senator Cardin during a Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearing.  “We need to send a clear message to the Russian leaders and the Russian people that protection of human rights is a priority for our nation along with the promotion of strong bilateral economic ties.”

Following the death of Russian lawyer Sergei Magnitsky, who exposed a massive tax-fraud scheme and was subsequently arrested and died in a Russian prison, Senator Cardin introduced legislation that would freeze assets and block visas of individuals who commit gross human-rights violations.

At the hearing, Senator Cardin also took the opportunity to stress the need for swift and strong implementation of Section 1504 of the Dodd-Frank bill by the Security and Exchange Commission (SEC) to ensure greater transparency in the extractive industries. 

“We want to see U.S. leadership on transparency in the extractive industry sector help ensure the wealth of mineral-rich nations go to the neediest citizens of those nations and not to corrupt regimes.  It is time for the SEC to make implementation of the transparency provisions in Dodd-Frank bill a reality and release a regulation that reflects Congressional intent.  Our government should be as forward leaning as possible.” 

In January, Senator Cardin authored a letter to the chairman of the SEC urging the agency to issue a final rule to implement Section 1504 of the Dodd-Frank Act requiring companies registered with the SEC to report how much they pay the U.S. and foreign governments for access to their oil and gas and minerals.

Senator Cardin also took the opportunity to compliment Secretary Clinton on her continued support for an international affairs budget that protects America’s security interests and maintains U.S. global leadership.