British Politician Calls on UK Parliament to Categorize Magnitsky Killers as “Economic Terrorists” and Impose UK Visa Bans

January 21, 2011

Chris Bryant MP, a Shadow Justice Minister and former Minster for Europe, has called upon the UK Home Secretary Theresa May to ban entry into the UK for the 60 Russian officials who were involved in the arrest, torture and death in police custody of Sergei Magnitsky, 37-year old anti-corruption lawyer representing UK investment firm, Hermitage Capital.

An extensive 1,000-page dossier which had been put together with evidence of their involvement and collusion in the crimes, was submitted by Mr Bryant to Her Majesty’s Government today. The suggestion to add these corrupt Russian officials was made in the House of Commons as part of the discussion on the updating of the ‘Prevention and Suppression of Terrorism Act of 2000’ on Wednesday 19th January. The debate focused on amendments to the act which would involve adding organisations groups and individuals responsible for extremist activity and economic terrorism to the list of currently “proscribed organisations”. A proscribed organisation is banned from operating, fundraising and promoting itself in the UK and it is a criminal offence to be connected with such proscribed persons in the UK.

Chris Bryant MP said:

“Sergei Magnitsky was working for a British company in Russia. He unveiled a vast nexus of corruption in the Russian system-$230 million-worth-and he was murdered in prison, having been put there without trial, and there has been absolutely no investigation since his death.”

Those involved in the arrest, torture and murder of Sergei Magnitsky, and all those involved in the corruption that he unveiled in Russia, are and have been engaged in a form of economic terrorism against this country. I hope that the Home Office will therefore look at whether such an order is precisely the right vehicle to use to seize any of those people’s assets in this country, or to proscribe them from coming to this country.”

In a prompt answer to the Chris Bryant’s proposal, the UK Immigration Minister Damian Green said in the House of Commons indicated that the UK government has in general at its disposal several ways to protect the UK businesses and public from the reach of corrupt Russian officials responsible for the torture and murder; same Russian officials have made threats to the Hermitage Capital lawyers in the UK.

Damien Green MP stated that:

“The Government have a wide range of counter-terrorism tools at their disposal, including asset freezing, exclusion and so forth.”

As of May 2009, a total of 46 groups were proscribed under Schedule 2 of the Terrorism Act 2000, including Al-Qa’ida, Hizbollah and the People’s Mujahiddin of Iran.

Damien Green MP also told me Bryant that he would be “happy” to meet Chris Bryant personally to discuss the details of the Sergei Magnitsky case.

At the end of last year, the European Parliament adopted with an overwhelming majority a resolution calling for “an EU entry ban for Russian officials involved in this [Magnitsky’s] case, and encourages EU law enforcement agencies to cooperate in freezing bank accounts and other assets of these Russian officials in all EU Member States”.

The legislation banning entry and freezing assets of Russian officials responsible for corruption uncovered by Mr Magnitsky and his persecution in custody was created last year in the US Congress and Canadian Parliament. Earlier, the powerful US Government Helsinki Commission mandated to monitor compliance with OSCE accords in the area of human rights compiled a list of 60 complicit Russian officials detailing their role in the theft of US$230 million of public funds, unlawful arrest, torture and death of 37-year old Sergei Magnitsky. The list triggered a worldwide campaign for justice around the world. Yet, in Russia, responsible officials were promoted and given top state honors on the eve of one-year anniversary of Magnitsky’s death. In response to the on-going impunity of Magnitsky’s torturers in Russia, leading Russian human rights activists have called upon the EU and US governments to take robust legal steps to create consequences for Russian officials in Magnitsky’s case on their territories.

Watch a documentary about the life and death of Sergei Magnitsky in Russian custody:

For the full transcript of the House of Commons debate on the Terrorism Act 2000 see this link:

Background Information:

Under the UK Terrorism Act 2000, ‘terrorism’ is defined as

the use or threat designed to influence the government for the purpose of advancing a political, religious or ideological cause, when it involves serious violence against a person, serious damage to property, endangers a person’s life, creates a serious risk to the health or safety of the public or a section of the public. ‘Organisation’ is defined as including ‘any association or combination of persons’. In deciding on the status of proscribed persons, the Home Secretary takes into account the specific threat that they pose to the UK and to British nationals overseas.

Christopher Bryant, a British Labour Party politician, has been the Member of Parliament (MP) since 2001. He is the former Minister of State for Europe and Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State at the Foreign and Commonwealth Office. He is currently a shadow Justice Minister, with responsibility for political and constitutional reform.

Sergei Magnitsky (8 April 1972 – 16 November 2009), an outside lawyer for the Hermitage Fund, blew the whistle on widespread Russian government corruption, involving officials from Russian law enforcement and security services. The officials he testified against arrested and detained him, beginning a nightmare in which he was thrown into custody without bail or trial, and systematically tortured for one year in an attempt to force him to retract his testimony. Despite the physical and psychological pain Sergei Magnitsky endured from his captors, he refused to perjure himself, even as his health deteriorated. Denied medical care for the last four months of his detention, he died in excruciating circumstances at the age of 37, having developed a severe pancreatic condition while being held in the Butyrka remand center — a notorious Czarist-era jail that also that also held Alexander Solzhenitsyn and Raoul Wallenberg.


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