December 9, 2009
November 17, 2009
WASHINGTON— U.S. Senator Benjamin L. Cardin (D-MD), Chairman of the Commission on Security and Cooperation in Europe (U.S. Helsinki Commission) and Co-Chairman Congressman Alcee L. Hastings (D-FL) expressed concerns today about the state of the Russian judicial system after learning that anti-corruption lawyer Sergei Magnitsky died Monday while being held in a pre-trial detention facility.
“I am troubled to learn of the recent death of Sergei Magnitsky,” Chairman Cardin said. “Magnitsky was incarcerated on apparently fabricated charges designed to end his inquiries into one of the largest cases of official corruption in modern Russian history. His death, while in official custody, raises serious questions about his treatment and overall conditions in Russian jails.”
Mr. Magnitsky, 37, was a father of two children and a highly regarded professional, who advised Hermitage Capital Management and hundreds of U.S. and foreign companies active in the Russian market. He had been held on tax evasion charges since Nov. 24.
Hermitage Capital Management CEO Bill Browder testified before the Helsinki Commission in June and said, “The situation in Russia is going from ‘bad’ back to ‘horrible’ – and it will be more than just investors who lose out in this process.”
“Tragically, it appears that Mr. Browder was correct. On top of a multi-million dollar corruption scheme and a legal nightmare for corporations trying to do honest work, we now mourn the death of a young lawyer who was simply trying to stand up to a broken judicial system,” Co-Chairman Hastings.
See the 10-minute Hermitage video about the corruption they faced here. Mr. Magnitsky is specifically mentioned in the video at 4:18 and 9:30.
The Commission on Security and Cooperation in Europe, also known as the U.S. Helsinki Commission, is an independent agency of the Federal Government charged with monitoring compliance with the Helsinki Accords and advancing comprehensive security through promotion of human rights, democracy, and economic, environmental and military cooperation in 56 countries. The Commission consists of nine members from the U.S. Senate, nine from the House of Representatives, and one member each from the Departments of State, Defense, and Commerce.
August 7, 2009
Excerpts from the report, published by the Committee on Legal Affairs and Human Rights on allegations of politically-motivated abuses of the criminal justice system in Council of Europe member states with recommendations on series of steps to strengthen the independence of judges and prosecutors across Europe to end politically-motivated interference in individual cases.
Inter alia the Committee calls for a series of reforms to reduce the political and hierarchical pressures on judges and put an end to the harassment of defence lawyers in order to combat “legal nihilism” in the Russian Federation, as a precondition also for successful co-operation between Russian and other European law enforcement authorities.
June 23, 2009
A report approved today by the Legal Affairs Committee of the Council of Europe Parliamentary Assembly (PACE) has recommended a series of steps to boost the independence of judges across Europe to end what it calls “politically-motivated interference” in individual cases.
The report, prepared by Sabine Leutheusser-Schnarrenberger (Germany, ALDE), exposes ways that politicians can meddle with the law in four countries representing the principal types of criminal justice system in Europe, analysing high-profile cases such as the dropping of the BAE fraud investigation and “cash for honours” scandal in the United Kingdom, or the second Khodorkovsky trial, HSBC/Hermitage Capital case and Politkovskaya investigation in Russia.
Among other things, the parliamentarians call for:
• in Russia, a series of reforms to reduce the political pressures on judges and end the harassment of defence lawyers in order to combat “legal nihilism” in Russia.