Canada adopts Sergei Magnitsky Law

Source : 112 Ukraine

Justice for Victims of Corrupt Foreign Officials Act allows Canada to sanction, freeze assets or deny entry to foreigners from any country that has violated human rights or engaged in corruption
16:50, 5 October 2017

Open source

Justice for Victims of Corrupt Foreign Officials Act was adopted unanimously by all 277 deputies attending the meeting on the vote in the Canada's House of Commons. Official account for regular updates about proceedings of the House of Commons Chamber reported.

An Act provides for the taking of restrictive measures in respect of foreign nationals responsible for gross violations of internationally recognized human rights and to make related amendments to the Special Economic Measures Act and the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act.

British House of Commons approved a similar law on February 22. The the American Sergei Magnitsky Rule of Law Accountability Act was adopted back in 2012.

The New York Times also reports that a nonprofit group called the Russian Congress of Canada pushed hard against the measure. The lawmakers say the effort was part of a broader lobbying campaign orchestrated by Russia against such laws.

The pro-Russia group denies any connection to the Kremlin, but lawmakers say the push fits a pattern of Moscow-backed interference in the West. And they say that the lobbying campaign, which began in 2014 and grew with attacks last spring on Canada’s foreign affairs minister, Chrystia Freeland, highlights the dangers of Russian meddling in Canada.

On October 3, Russia issued an extraordinary rebuke of Canada after the House of Commons took another step towards passing the human rights law, the National Post reported. A statement from the Russian embassy threatened countermeasures, accusing Canada of committing a “deplorably confrontational act.” 

Nonetheless, the bill passed unanimously in Canada’s Parliament on Wednesday evening. It allows Canada to sanction, freeze assets or deny entry to foreigners from any country that has violated human rights or engaged in corruption.

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The legislation, informally known as the Sergei Magnitsky Law, is named for a lawyer who died in a Russian prison under mysterious circumstances after exposing one of the biggest government corruption scandals during President Vladimir V. Putin’s time in power.

Bill Browder founded hedge fund firm Hermitage Capital Management in Moscow in 1996, achieved early success as a dissident shareholder in Russia, pressuring corrupt companies to clean up their acts for the good of stockholders. Though he gained considerable prominence as a shareholder activist, Hermitage managed $4.5 billion at its peak and at one time was the best-performing hedge fund in the world.


His lawyer, Sergei Magnitsky, died in a Russian prison in 2009 under what the U.S. government called “suspicious circumstances.” Magnitsky had discovered a complicated government plot to steal Hermitage’s holding companies and use them to fraudulently misappropriate taxes Hermitage had paid to the government. But what Browder later learned was much more ominous: he testified that the crime went all the way back to Putin, Russia’s Prime Minister, who Browder claims is “the richest man in the World”; owing to extensive fraud and corruption.

After Magnitsky’s death, Browder realized that obtaining criminal justice in Russia would be impossible. Instead, he embarked on an extensive lobbying campaign to pressure U.S. government officials into passing legislation, in 2012, that made it impossible for the officials involved in Magnitsky’s death to obtain visas to the U.S. or stash their assets in the West. The law came to be known as the Sergei Magnitsky Rule of Law and Accountability Act.

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The former financier has found himself at the epicenter of one of the biggest stories in global politics: the investigation into whether President Donald Trump colluded with Russia to sway the 2016 U.S. presidential election. The Magnitsky Act plays an unlikely starring role in the saga.

The term Magnitsky Act became part of the vocabulary of this political scandal.

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