UK Parliament’s Foreign Affairs Committee Calls on Government to Disclose Names on Visa Bans Lists as a Result of Magnitsky Case

October 18, 2012

Yesterday, the House of Commons Foreign Affairs Committee recommended that the British Government should publicly disclose the names of human rights abusers who have been denied entry into the UK. The new policy recommendation was announced as part of the British Parliament’s review of the Foreign and Commonwealth Office’s approach to Human Rights, which was published in the Foreign Affairs Committee Third Report of Session 2012-13.

The Foreign Affairs Committee report and their recommendations followed the submission of evidence from Amnesty International, Fair Trials International, Hermitage Capital, Human Rights Watch, REDRESS and others.

“The Russian officials who tortured and killed Magnitsky are hiding behind a cloak of impunity and secrecy. Making the visa ban list public is the first step towards accountability for their actions and we are pleased to see the recommendations of the UK Parliament’s Foreign Affairs Committee calling on the British Government to do this,” said a Hermitage Capital spokesperson.

The Foreign Affairs Committee made this recommendation in the context of the high profile torture and murder of Sergei Magnitsky by Russian officials.

The key recommendation of the Foreign Affairs Committee states: “The Government does not routinely publicise the identity of individuals denied a visa to enter the UK, and it has resisted calls to make public any denial of visas to enter the UK for those who held responsibility in the chain of events which led to the death of Mr Sergei Magnitsky in pre-trial detention in Russia in 2009. However, we believe that, when used sparingly, publicising the names of those denied entry on human rights grounds could be a valuable tool in drawing attention to the UK’s determination to uphold high standards of human rights, and we recommend that the Government make use of it.”

The report follows the House of Commons Backbench Committee motion in March 2012 entitled, “Human Rights and the Death of Sergei Magnitsky”, where MPs from all British political parties unanimously voted for the British Government to impose visa sanctions and asset freezes on the Russian government officials who tortured and killed Sergei Magnitsky.

“It’s high time Britain named and shamed those responsible for the brutal murder of Sergei Magnitsky and similar atrocities in Russia and elsewhere, so the perpetrators can’t waltz into the UK as if nothing had happened,” said Dominic Raab MP, author of the Backbench Committee motion on Sergei Magnitsky.

Sergei Magnitsky (8 April 1972 – 16 November 2009), an outside lawyer for the Hermitage Fund, discovered that Russian police and government officials were involved in the theft of $230 million of state taxes through the largest tax refund fraud in Russian history. Magnitsky testified against the state officials involved, and in retribution was arrested and tortured to withdraw his testimony. Despite the systematic physical and psychological torture, Magnitsky refused to change his testimony. He died on 16 November 2009 at the age of 37 after being beaten to death by police with rubber batons while still in custody, leaving a wife and two children. In 2010, Transparency International, a leading civil society organisation fighting corruption, awarded its annual ‘Integrity Award’ posthumously to Sergei Magnitsky.


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