Magnitsky Act has been introduced into Verkhovna Rada (Ukrainian parliament)

Ukraine will become sixth country in the world to push human rights legislation forward.

In December, Ukrainian parliament was presented with Magnitsky legislation with broad support of its members. Ukraine is the sixth country in the world to promote Magnitsky Act human rights legislation.

Announcement this initiative today, Serhiy Kiral, Member of Parlament and one of co-authors of the draft bill stated that “With Ukrainian Magnitsky Act being introduced Ukraine is joining a number of states, which has already imposed a personal sanctions regime targeted at those violating human rights on a large scale. In Spring 2017, while nurturing the idea for Ukraine to join the global campaign and meeting William Browder, Putin’s #1 enemy, I was surprised that in the framework of international law Ukraine is not fully utilizing all available instruments to keep those violating human rights accountable, in particular in the context of Ukranian-Russian war for independence. This is an important step forward contributing to the rights protection of Ukrainian citizens, political prisoners, who suffered from or continue to be detained in Russian prisons in addition to commemorating Sergei Magnitsky, who was not afraid to stand up against the totalitarian and corrupt Putin regime in Russian Federation..

Olena Sotnyk, a co-author and co-initiator of the draft bill made the following remarks: “The adoption of Magnitsky Act is the way to further consolidation of efforts with international community and fight for protection of human rights. Moreover, introduction of targted sanctions on Russian government officials, judges, law-enforcement who violate human rights has a direct link to Ukrainian national interests and national security for Ukraine at war with Russian nowadays. Sergei Magnitsky case is not exceptional, detached from reality, while all those bearing direct responsibility for Sergei Magnitsky’s murder continue to occupy their positions and similarly violate human rights towards our native citizens, who reside in occupied Crimea or were forcefully relocated to Russian Federation.”.

The draft bill foresees targeted sanctions regime to be imposed on human rights abusers in a form of Ukraine terrtory entry ban and assets freeze. List of individuals to be covered by the sanctions regime is added to the draft bill. As a matter-of-fact, this list coincides with similar lists of individuals under sanctions in the US and UK, as well as the one adopted by the Council of Europe.

Ukrainian Magnitsky Act is titled ‘On Measures to Protect National Interests, National Security of Ukraine and Keeping Human Rights Abusers Accountable’. This title uncovers the key objective of the bill.

Explanatory memorandum to the bill underlines the importance of Magnitsky legacy for the protection of human rights. “Sergei Magnitsky murder is the most appalling example of utter disrespect of Russian authorities to rights of their citizens, characterised by cynicism and impunity”.

Sergei Magnitsky was a Russian lawyer, who disclosed money laundering scheme for 230 million USD with involvement of Russian officials. Soon afterwards, he was arrested by those officials linked to the crime and detained for 358 days, until he was murdered at the age of 37 on November 16th, 2009.

Instead of executing justice against those associated with the murder, Russian authorities has been tireless in offering them further incentives and state recognition. Formal investigation was closed on grounds of lack of crime evidence.

Sergei Magnitsky’s detention in Russian custody eights anniversary was marked in 2017. Magnitsky Act was adopted the US five years ago, in 2012.

In 2016, a year ago, Estonia became the first country in Europe to adopt Magnitsky Act, while similar acts were passsed in the UK, Canada and Lithuania throughout the year.

Olena Sotnyk concludes:Unfortunately, current mechanism of imposing sanctions in Ukraine does not allow for full confidence that these or other sanctions would be eventually enforced, despite the need for them evident. Verkhovna Rada is responsible for formulating the principles of Ukraine’s foreign policy, nevertheless, remaining deprived of the authority to impose sanctions, which, wihout any doubt, are an important element of any foreign policy. Therefore, Magnitsky Act is a set of two bills consisting of the bill to improve the capacity of sanctions regime introduction and a bill on targeted sanctions imposed on concrete individuals, human rights abusers”.

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