20 February 2017 – Tomorrow, on the 21st of February 2017, the UK House of Commons will vote on the Magnitsky legislative initiative which seeks to impose asset freezes in the UK on human rights violators from anywhere in the world.
The initiative is presented as an amendment to the Criminal Finances Bill which was introduced to the parliament last October to strengthen and improve the enforcement of the Proceeds of Crime Act.
The Magnitsky initiative comes in two forms – the Dominic Raab MP version (supported by a cross-party coalition of MPs), which allows both the British government or third parties to go to court to seek asset freezes of human rights abusers; and the government’s version, which keeps the asset freezing power solely in the hands of the government. Both versions cover conduct which occurred outside UK and would be illegal in the UK.
“This legislation hits kleptocrats where it counts. Nearly every tin-pot dictator who tortures and kills in their own country has an expensive home in London. These people shouldn’t be given sanctuary in the UK. This legislation is also an important tribute to the legacy of Sergei Magnitsky and a powerful instrument protecting whistleblowers,” said William Browder, leader of the Global Magnitsky Justice campaign.
On Tuesday, the 21st of February 2017, the Bill will be considered at the report stage and third reading of the Bill.
Should the Magnitsky initiative pass into law, the UK will be the third country in the world to impose Magnitsky type sanctions.
The new legislation will protect whistleblowers and human rights defenders identified as those “seeking to expose illegal activity carried out by a public official” or “obtain/defend human rights and fundamental freedoms.”
The proposed Magnitsky legislation modifies the current definition of unlawful conduct under Part 5 of the Proceeds of Crime Act to include human rights abuse. This allows for civil recovery proceedings to be brought with regard to property belonging to human rights violators.
The proposed Magnitsky legislation will also apply to individuals who financially profited from or materially assisted the human rights violations. It applies to torture whether it occurred before or after the law is enacted.
The US passed the Russia-focused Magnitsky Act imposing US asset freezes and visa bans in 2012 and the Global Magnitsky Act which applies to human rights violators around the world in 2016. Estonia passed its Global Magnitsky Act in 2016. Currently, Canada and the EU are considering their own versions of Magnitsky sanctions as well.
The UK’s Magnitsky amendment was sponsored by Dominic Raab MP (Conservative), Dame Margaret Hodge MP (Labour), Tom Brake MP (Liberal Democrat), Ian Blackford MP (SNP), Douglas Carswell MP (UKIP), Caroline Lucas MP (Green), and Sammy Wilson MP (Democratic Unionist), and supported by a total of 50 MPs.
For more information, please contact:
Justice for Sergei Magnitsky