Magnitsky Sanctions Law Introduced in the Canadian Parliament

May 13, 2016


For Immediate distribution

Magnitsky Sanctions Law Introduced in the Canadian Parliament


13 May 2016 – Yesterday, the Conservative Party of Canada announced the introduction of the Justice for Victims of Corrupt Foreign Officials (Sergei Magnitsky Law) bill in House of Commons and the Senate simultaneously.


The Magnitsky bill was introduced by James Bezan MP, Member of Parliament for Selkirk-Interlake-Eastman, in the House of Commons, and The Hon. Raynell Andreychuk, Senator for Saskatchewan, in the Senate.


“The purpose of the Magnitsky Law is to sanction those who are committing serious human rights crimes within their countries, or the corrupt individuals who are stealing the assets of people,” said Mr Bezan, MP, on the bill introduction.


The Hon Irwin Cotler, former Justice Minister, and one of the strongest advocates of Magnitsky legislation in Canada, last year urged Canadian lawmakers to adopt the law:


“It is time…for us to treat Russian domestic human-rights violations as seriously as we do violations of political independence and territorial integrity… Countries that value human rights and the rule of law must use the measures at our disposal to hold violators to account and discourage future violations.”


The Canadian Magnitsky Law (C-267) and (S-226) provides for visa sanctions and asset freezes against foreign nationals responsible for gross violations of internationally recognized human rights.


Speaking about the effect of the Canadian Magnitsky Law, James Bezan, MP said:


“This would provide the tools and mechanisms to the government to ensure it can put in place the proper sanctions with respect to the travel and economic activity of those corrupt foreign officials without having to do it on a case-by-case basis.”


“More importantly, it also provides both the House of Commons and the Senate foreign affairs committees with the ability to look at who is on the different lists for sanctions around the world on an annual basis and report that back to the House.”


Before last year’s election, the Liberal Party of Canada, along with other political parties, promised to enact Magnitsky sanctions if they won. In particular, the Liberal Party said that a Liberal Government would introduce legislation, modelled on the US Magnitsky legislation, because of the belief that, “by imposing sanctions, we can impose meaningful penalties on human rights violators and deter future violations.


Yet, after coming to power in November 2015, Canada’s new Prime Minister 44-years old Justin Trudeau reneged on his party’s election promise, suddenly changed course and decided to “re-engage” with Russia instead.


This is a betrayal by Justin Trudeau of the principles that Boris Nemtsov and Sergei Magnitsky stood for and who gave their lives in the fight with corruption and human rights abuse,” said William Browder, leader of Global Magnitsky Justice campaign.


In 2012, Russian opposition leader Boris Nemtsov travelled to Canada to call on the Canadian government and politicians to adopt the Magnitsky Act. He was subsequently assassinated in front of the Kremlin.


Addressing a Canadian audience in Ottawa, three years before his murder, Boris Nemtsov said:


“Magnitsky was killed by prosecutors and prison management… Putin government supported the murderers. The idea of the [Magnitsky] Act is to implement sanctions against corrupt officials and others who are responsible for killing Magnitsky.” (See Full speech by Boris Nemtsov in Canada in 2012, starting after introduction at 4th min: )


“As a country with the low level of corruption and rule of law, Canada has to fight against criminals and against corruption. You are not against Russia, you are against corruption, against criminals. It will be very painful for Russian corrupt bureaucracy to get such kind of law from Canada. Very painful. Because corrupt system in Russia means that they have property outside of the country, they relax outside the country, they send their kids to get education outside,” said Boris Nemtsov, urging Canadian lawmakers and the Canadian Government to adopt Magnitsky law four years ago.


The US became the first country to enact the Magnitsky Legislation.


In December 2012, the US Congress adopted the Sergei Magnitsky Rule of Law Accountability Act which imposes targeted visa bans and asset freezes on persons involved in Sergei Magnitsky mistreatment, death, cover up and the criminal conspiracy he had uncovered.


In January 2014, the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe, comprising 47 states, called for the introduction of Magnitsky sanctions by member states in case of failure by Russian authorities to respond to the recommendations of its resolution, “Refusing Impunity for the Killers of Sergei Magnitsky”, to which Russia has failed to comply since.


In April 2014, the European Parliament adopted the Magnitsky Sanctions Resolution, listing 32 persons involved in Magnitsky case and urging the EU Council to adopt EU-wide sanctions.


For more information, please contact:


Justice for Sergei Magnitsky

+44 207 440 1777



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