WASHINGTON – U.S. Senators Ben Cardin (D-Md.) and John McCain (R-Ariz.), authors of the Sergei Magnitsky Human Rights Accountability Act of 2012 and the Global Magnitsky Human Rights Accountability Act of 2016 laws, released the following statement and background information Tuesday:
“Recent news reports have shone a light on the Sergei Magnitsky Human Rights Accountability Act. Sergei Magnitsky was a Russian attorney working on behalf of his clients nearly a decade ago when he uncovered deep-seated corruption, and as any good lawyer would do, he reported his findings to Russian authorities. For doing his job, he was summarily arrested, jailed, tortured and killed. In his name, we wrote legislation to hold accountable those Russian authorities directly and indirectly responsible for his death by freezing their assets, denying them access to American financial institutions and preventing them from traveling to the United States. The law also enables similar sanctions on those who engage in gross human rights violations in Russia, where unfortunately, the abuses and due process breaches seen in Sergei’s case are widespread. The law serves as a deterrent for would-be perpetrators of abuses in Russia, and demonstrates a meaningful step we can take as American lawmakers who believe in advancing the rule of law and core human freedoms the world over. We were thrilled when our colleagues joined us last year in advancing the same standards at the global level via the Global Magnitsky Human Rights Accountability Act, which was included in the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2017.
“These laws are an American gold standard, and other countries around the world have passed or are pursuing similar legislation. We appreciate that the Trump Administration has so far signaled it will continue to enforce both laws, and we look forward to working with them on robust implementation of this powerful foreign policy tool.”
About Sergei Magnitsky:
The case of Sergei Magnitsky symbolizes 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 by Russian authorities and in positions of authority. In a mockery of the rule of law, Magnitsky was tried and convicted posthumously, and the Kremlin continues to advance propaganda to discredit and lie about his life and work.
Summary of Sergei Magnitsky Act legislation upon original introduction in 2010