US Religious Groups Call On the U.S. Congress to Impose Magnitsky Sanctions

June 18, 2012

Today a num­ber of US reli­gious orga­ni­za­tions from dif­fer­ent denom­i­na­tions have called on the U.S. Con­gress to pass the Mag­nit­sky Act. The lead­ers of nine US reli­gious organ­i­sa­tions have writ­ten to mem­bers of Con­gress urg­ing the swift pas­sage of the Mag­nit­sky Act in its cur­rent form. In their let­ter, they point out that the Mag­nit­sky Act gives the United States an impor­tant and effec­tive pol­icy tool to address seri­ous human rights abuses around the world (http://ucsj.org/2012/06/15/sergei-magnitsky/).

“It is one thing to talk about the human rights and reli­gious free­doms and quite another to actu­ally do some­thing about it. Because of the well thought out terms of this leg­is­la­tion, we believe that this bill will become an effec­tive lever that the United States will have in deal­ing with this per­ni­cious and grow­ing prob­lem of human rights abuses around the world,” said the reli­gious groups in their joint letter.

“Magnitsky’s sac­ri­fice will hope­fully lead to an impor­tant and new method for fight­ing human rights abuses which could have a dra­matic effect every­where,” said the letter.

The let­ter is signed by reli­gious groups of var­i­ous faiths and denom­i­na­tions, includ­ing the Action for Post-Soviet Jewry, the Union of Coun­cils for Jews in the for­mer Soviet Union, Amer­i­can Islamic Con­gress, Hindu Amer­i­can Foun­da­tion, Inter­na­tional Insti­tute for Reli­gious Free­dom, Church of Sci­en­tol­ogy, United Mace­don­ian Dias­pora, Part­ners for a Pro­gres­sive Israel, and Human Rights Law Foun­da­tion, as well as promi­nent fig­ures in the field of reli­gious freedom.

“As rep­re­sen­ta­tives of a wide num­ber of reli­gions and faiths across the United States, we do every­thing pos­si­ble to make sure that all peo­ple can prac­tice their faith around the world with­out restric­tion or inter­fer­ence. For this rea­son, we strongly sup­port the pas­sage of the ‘Sergei Mag­nit­sky Rule of Law Account­abil­ity Act’,” says the letter.

Under the Mag­nit­sky Act cur­rently in front of the U.S. Con­gress, visa bans and asset freezes will be imposed on those involved in the tor­ture of 37-year old whistle-blowing lawyer and the cor­rup­tion he had uncov­ered in Rus­sia, as well on those who kill, tor­ture and oth­er­wise repress the defend­ers of free­doms of reli­gion, expres­sion, asso­ci­a­tion and assem­bly and of the right to a fair trial and demo­c­ra­tic elections.

Com­ing to Amer­ica is a priv­i­lege and not a right, and when for­eign offi­cials are involved in tor­ture, mur­der, restric­tions of reli­gious free­dom or other human rights abuses, they should have that priv­i­lege taken away. We believe that this law would not only cre­ate an effec­tive pun­ish­ment for peo­ple who have vio­lated human rights, but also a pow­er­ful deter­rent for peo­ple not to do these things in the future,” says the reli­gious free­dom activists.

“As dis­cus­sions on the Mag­nit­sky bill progress in the U.S. Con­gress, we are see­ing more and more out­pour­ing of sup­port for this leg­is­la­tion inspired by the courage and dig­nity of a young Russ­ian man who gave his life for his belief in truth and jus­tice,” said a Her­mitage Cap­i­tal representative.

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