WASHINGTON- U.S. Senators Ben Cardin (D-Md.) and John McCain (R-Ariz.), have introduced their bill, S. 284 the Global Magnitsky Human Rights Accountability Act that would ensure human rights abusers and corrupt officials are denied entry into the United States and barred from using our financial institutions. The legislation would expand the Russia-specific sanctions in the Sergei Magnitsky Rule of Law Accountability Act (Public Law 112-208) to apply globally, and would make significant acts of corruption a sanctionable offense. The bill introduced today is the same language that was approved by the Senate Foreign Relations Committee in June 2014.
“Human rights abusers and corrupt officials around the world will hear loud and clear that the United States speaks with one voice when we say that we will fight corruption and human rights violations wherever they occur,” said Senator Cardin. “This bipartisan bill will provide the current administration and future administrations powerful tools to deter gross rights violations and significant corruption, while also protecting America’s financial system from those who would use it to launder or shelter ill-gotten gains. Once enacted, this bill will honor Sergei Magnitsky and other whistleblowers who gave their lives to ensure that corrupt officials who abuse their power will face justice for their crimes.”
“Congress passed the Magnitsky Act in 2012 to place the United States firmly on the side of those struggling for human rights and the rule of law in Russia,” said Senator McCain. “This bipartisan legislation extends that effort, holding accountable those who commit gross violations of human rights across the world. Standing up for the rule of law and establishing clear consequences for abuses of fundamental human rights serves our nation’s interests and reflects of deepest values, and I am proud to join Senator Cardin in this effort.”
Cosponsors of the Global Magnitsky Human Rights Accountability Act (S. 284) include U.S. Senators Dick Durbin (D-Ill.), Roger Wicker (R-Miss.), Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH), Marco Rubio (R-Fla.), Ed Markey (D-Mass.), Mark Kirk (R-Ill.) and Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.).
The case of Sergei Magnitsky has come to symbolize the rampant and often violent corruption plaguing the Russian state. Sergei, a 37-year-old tax lawyer, husband and father working for an American firm in Moscow, blew the whistle on the largest known tax fraud in Russian history. For that he was arrested in 2008 by those he accused, and he was imprisoned under torturous conditions for nearly a year. He was denied medical care and beaten by prison guards; he died alone in November 2009 in an isolation cell as doctors waited outside his door. These facts are accepted at the highest levels of Russia’s government, yet those implicated in his death remain unpunished, in positions of authority. In a mockery of the rule of law, Magnitsky was tried and convicted posthumously. Magnitsky joins a heartbreaking list of heroes across the globe who lost their lives because they stood up for principle.
A summary of the bill follows below. The full text can be found here.
- Authorizes the President to publish and update a list of each foreign national the President determines is responsible for significant corruption, extrajudicial killings, torture, or other gross violations of internationally recognized human rights committed against individuals seeking to promote human rights or to expose illegal activity carried out by government officials. Sanctions on these individuals include:
- Prohibiting or revoking U.S. entry visas or other entry documentation; and
- Freezing and prohibiting U.S. property transactions of an individual if such property and property interests are in the United States, come within the United States, or are in or come within the control of a U.S. person or entity.
- Authorizes the Secretary of State and the Secretary of the Treasury to report annually to Congress regarding actions taken pursuant to the bill.