United States seeks to expand ‘Magnitsky Act’ to global scope

WASHINGTON, Jan. 17 (PNA/ITAR-TASS) — The bill, expanding the scope of the so-called ‘Magnitsky Act’ to include other nations have been submitted Thursday to the U.S. Congress. The document is authored by Democratic Senator Ben Cardin of Maryland, and Republican Senator John McCain of Arizona.

Proposed bill

“The United States must maintain its global leadership in the fight against corruption and human rights abuses wherever they occur,” said Senator Cardin. He added: “This bipartisan bill gives us the tools to deter future abuses throughout the world, while also protecting our strategic financial infrastructure from those who would use it to launder or shelter ill-gotten gains. Gross violators of human rights from Zimbabwe to Ukraine, and Honduras to Papua New Guinea, are put on notice that they cannot escape the consequences of their actions even when their home country fails to act.”

The new legislative proposal seeks to direct the U.S. president to publish and update lists of foreign citizens, who “based on credible information [are] responsible for extrajudicial killings, torture, or other human rights violations committed against individuals seeking to promote human rights or to expose illegal activity carried out by government officials.”

The proposed act makes a foreign national on such list ineligible to enter or be admitted to the United States, revokes any visa issued for such person and allows for a classified annex of the list, under certain conditions.

The bill also “directs the President to freeze and prohibit U.S. property transactions of an individual who is on the list 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.”

Finally, it “directs the Secretary of State and the Secretary of the Treasury to report annually to Congress regarding actions taken pursuant to the amendment”.

Magnistky Act

The Magnitsky Act, adopted in 2012, provides for visa and economic sanctions against a number of Russian citizens suspected by Washington with implication in the death of Hermitage Capital lawyer Sergei Magnitsky during his imprisonment. The initial list contained eighteen names. None of the officials on it were high-ranking ones. The blacklisted persons were to be denied US entry visas and their assets in US territory, were any discovered, were frozen.

Russia’s response

Initially the response created a so-called “Guantanamo list”, consisting of 11 names of U.S. officials who violated human rights. In January 2013 Russia’s Foreign Ministry expanded from 11 to 71 names on the list of the US citizens, who would not be able to enter Russia. The first list, which the foreign ministry put together in autumn, had 11 names of the US officials, who, Moscow claimed, were connected to violations of human rights and to tortures at Guantanamo and in the CIA’s secret prisons in Europe.

The additional list had 60 names: those responsible for the criminal prosecution of Viktor Bout and Konstantin Yaroshenko, those responsible for violations against adopted children as well as authors and lobbyists of the Magnitsky Act. (PNA/Itar-Tass)