Saturday, May 2, 2015

Support the Global Magnitsky Act: Help stop the decline in human rights standards

Take action and turn the tide
Sergei Magnitsky: Prisoner of Conscience who died in custody
 Human rights and fundamental freedoms have been in decline over the past decade. At the same time Western powers have lifted sanctions on repressive regimes, lacking the political will to resist them and hold them accountable. The Supreme Court decision in Crosby versus National Foreign Trade Council (2000) has made the power to issue sanctions solely the domain of the Federal government.  Coinciding with the decline in human rights are growing levels of corruption.

Human rights defenders and friends of freedom have two options: 1) remain passive before these negative trends in despair or 2) do something about it. Bill Browder, founder and CEO of Hermitage Capital Management, confronted with massive rights violations and corruption in Russia did something.

Browder was expelled from Russia in 2005 and officials stole $230 million of taxes from his investment companies that had previously paid. When his lawyer, Sergei Magnitsky, investigated the crime, he was arrested by the same officers he implicated, tortured for 358 days, and killed in custody at the age of 37 in November 2009.

 Browder took the case to the United States, and lobbied the US Congress into adopting the ‘Sergei Magnitsky Rule of Law Accountability Act’ in 2012, which imposed visa sanctions and asset freezes on those involved in the detention, ill-treatment and death of Sergei Magnitsky. This law was the first time the United States sanctioned Russia in 35 years.

There is an effort underway now  to pass the Global Magnitsky Human Rights Accountability Act, which would impose visa sanctions and asset freezes on human rights abusers around the world. Human rights defenders in countries such as Burma, China, Cuba, Ecuador, Venezuela, Vietnam, and Zimbabwe should support this legislation.

Time to turn the tide on the decline of human rights around the world. An effective and nonviolent tool to turn things around would be the Global Magnitsky Bill. Reach out to your Congressman and Senator and ask them to back this law.

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