British Parliament Votes Unanimously in Favor of Magnitsky Sanctions
March 8, 2012
Yesterday, a motion was unanimously passed in the British House of Commons calling on the government to impose visa sanctions and asset freezes on the Russian officials who falsely arrested, tortured and killed Sergei Magnitsky and then covered up the crime.
Forty British MPs from all major political parties voted unanimously in favor of the motion entitled “Human Rights Abuses and the Death of Sergei Magnitsky”.
“The UK Parliament has spoken overwhelmingly in solidarity with Sergei Magnitsky and the other brave voices fighting for the rule of law and reform in Russia. The government should now heed its will and come forward with a bill to impose targeted sanctions on those responsible for torture, assassination and other crimes against those struggling to promote or defend the most basic freedoms we enjoy here,” said Dominic Raab, MP, who introduced the motion.
Alistair Burt, Foreign Office Minister, responding on behalf of the government, said the government did not oppose the motion. Minister Burt said that the British government is determined to secure justice in this case. He stressed that the UK government has consistently raised the Magnitsky case with the Russian government at the highest levels, including with President Medvedev and Foreign Minister Lavrov, and finds it “deeply troubling” that no one has been held liable for his death.
Minister Burt went on to say:
“The death of Sergei Magnitsky serves as a stark reminder of the human rights situation in Russia, and questions about the rule of law there.”
Sir Malcolm Rifkind, MP, former British Foreign Secretary, said of the Parliamentary vote:
“I am delighted that the House of Commons has unanimously expressed its will that the UK should join other government around the world in refusing visas and travel rights into the UK for those responsible for the persecution and death of Sergei Magnitsky.”
Dominic Raab, MP, called on the government to present the implementation plan before the Queen’s speech scheduled for May 9.
The motion calls upon the British government to introduce legislative proposals sanctioning four categories of officials who:
“(a) were involved in the detention, physical abuse or death of Sergei Magnitsky;
(b) participated in efforts to conceal the legal liability for the detention, abuse or death of Sergei Magnitsky;
(c) committed the frauds discovered by Sergei Magnitsky; or
(d) are responsible for extrajudicial killings, torture or other gross violations of human rights committed in Russia or any other country against any individual seeking to obtain, exercise, defend or promote basic and internationally recognised human rights, including those set out in the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights 1966.”
The debate went ahead in spite of a letter of protest from Russian Ambassador Alexander Yakovenko sent to Speaker of the House of Commons, John Bercow, attempting to stop the debate.