US expands Magnitsky Act to go global, including Moldova
Moldovan officials involved in corruption or human rights violations could be prosecuted administratively by the US Government.
Legislation expanding the 2012 U.S. Magnitsky human rights act from Russian citizens to cover abusers in any country passed the U.S. Senate on Thursday, December 8, as part of an annual defense policy bill, leaving the landmark measure on the verge of becoming law, informs Reuters.
The legislation was included in the must-pass National Defense Authorization Act, or NDAA, setting policy for the Department of Defense, despite the recent election of Republican Donald Trump as the U.S. president. Trump has signaled a softer line against Russia, which vehemently opposes the original Sergei Magnitsky Rule of Law Accountability Act, and its expansion.
The Magnitsky Act imposed visa bans and asset freezes on Russian officials linked to the 2009 death in prison of Sergei Magnitsky, a 37-year-old Russian whistleblower. bla
Backers of the bill have pushed for years to expand its impact to every country, and to make "significant" acts of corruption sanctionable offenses.
The House of Representatives passed the National Defense Authorization Act, or NDAA, by an overwhelming margin on Dec. 2. The Senate vote sends the measure, including Global Magnitsky, to the White House for President Barack Obama to veto or sign into law.
A White House spokesman said shortly after the NDAA passed that he could not yet say how the president would proceed.
Estonia has voted to ban foreigners deemed guilty of human rights abuses from entering the country, in a law inspired by the Sergei Magnitsky case.
"To have the first European Magnitsky law passed in a country which borders Russia is a fitting tribute to Sergei Magnitsky, whose murder in Russia inspired this legislation," William Browder, the head of the Magnitsky Justice Campaign, said in a statement.
Similar bills are being examined in the UK and Canada. So far no member state of the Schengen Area has followed the gesture, even though the European Parliament has recommended this in a resolution. bb
Sergei Magnitsky was a Russian lawyer and auditor whose arrest and subsequent death in custody generated international media attention and triggered both official and unofficial inquiries into allegations of fraud, theft and human rights violations. Magnitsky had alleged there had been a large-scale theft from the Russian state sanctioned and carried out by Russian officials. He was arrested and eventually died in prison seven days before the expiration of the one-year term during which he could be legally held without trial.
His case has become an international cause célèbre and led to the adoption of the Magnitsky bill, formally known as the "Russia and Moldova Jackson-Vanik Repeal and Serghei Magnitsky Rule of Law Accountability Act" by the US government at the end of 2012 by which those Russian officials believed to be involved in the auditor’s death were barred from entering the United States or using its banking system.
In response, Russia blocked hundreds of foreign adoptions, the Russian government denied Americans adoption of Russian children, issued a list of US officials prohibited from entering Russia, and posthumously convicted Magnitsky as guilty.