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.