The Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe called on European countries to enact legislation that allows sanctions to be imposed on persons involved in serious human rights violations and corruption, in line with the “Magnitsky laws” in force in the United States and several EU countries.
The resolution was adopted on January 22 at a PACE session, which takes place in the French city of Strasbourg. It was passed with 95 votes in favour, while three voted against and six abstained.
The document contains an appeal to the Russia authorities to investigate the circumstances surrounding of the death of lawyer Sergei Magnitsky in a Moscow prison and to bring the perpetrators to justice. It is noted that Russia’s authorities have not yet done so, but continue to pursue William Browder, a US-born businessman whose company Magnitsky was auditing when he uncovered massive corruption linked to the Russian government. Browder himself welcomed the adoption of the PACE resolution.
The document also welcomed the decision of the United Kingdom, Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania to adopt legislation on the model of the American “Magnitsky Law”. The resolution adds that such laws should apply to violators of human rights not only in a particular country, but anywhere in the world.
The PACE also notes that spot sanctions against individuals and their related companies are better than economic sanctions directed against entire countries which affect the living standards of their population. According to PACE, sanctions should be targeted and aimed directly at violators of human rights and ruling elites.
Auditor and lawyer Sergei Magnitsky, who collaborated with Hermitage Capital, a company owned by William Browder, died in a Moscow prison in November 2009. Magnitsky was sentenced after announcing that he had discovered a scheme for the theft of hundreds of millions of dollars from the Russian budget. He was accused and found guilty of participating in the very scheme he had been investigating. According to lawyers and a number of testimonies, his death was the result of ill-treatment and the refusal of the prison administrators to provide the him with medical assistance after he fell ill. Nobody has been held responsible for his death. Browder was sentenced in absentia by a Russian court, for tax evasion.