Canadian Parliament Formally Recommends the Canadian Government Adopt Magnitsky Sanctions Against Human Rights Violators
6 April 2017 – Today, the Canadian Parliament’s Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs has issued a formal recommendation to the Canadian government to update the existing sanctions legislation with the Magnitsky sanctions against human rights violators.
In their recommendation, the Committee said: “In honour of Sergei Magnitsky, the Government of Canada should amend the Special Economic Measures Act to expand the scope under which sanctions measures can be enacted, including in cases of gross human rights violations.”
The Magnitsky recommendations include:
1) Freezing assets of human rights violators,
2) Banning their entry to Canada,
3) Publishing a list of people and entities subject to these sanctions, and
4) Conducting an annual review of the Canadian government’s enforcement of the legislation.
The recommendation was inspired by the case of Sergei Magnitsky in Russia, but has been expanded to apply to human rights violators globally.
The Committee concluded:
“While originally focused on addressing the human rights situation in Russia, catalysed by the tragic case of Sergei Magnitsky, this movement now calls for the application of sanctions against human rights violators globally, and was instrumental in the passing of the Global Magnitsky Human Rights Accountability Act in the U.S.”
The report by Canada’s Foreign Affairs Committee cites William Browder, leader of the global Magnitsky Justice Campaign:
“Effectively, with a Magnitsky act, whether it be a Russian act specifically or a global act, it would give people some hope that in Canada, the United States, and other places, people do care.”
The Canadian Magnitsky Recommendation is a result of a five-month review of the sanctions regime conducted in the Canada’s House of Commons.
“The Committee heard compelling testimony from a number of highly-respected human rights activists regarding how sanctions can be a potentially valuable tool in the promotion and protection of human rights. They recommended that Canada expand the legislative authority under which the government can impose sanctions against human rights violators,” says the Foreign Affairs Committee report.
The report by the Foreign Affairs Committee quotes Zhanna Nemtsova, founder of the Boris Nemtsov Foundation for Freedom, named after her father, a Russian pro-democracy advocate who was murdered in 2015, saying:
“These are not sanctions against a country or even a government. These are sanctions against specific individuals responsible for corruption and for abusing human rights.”
The Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs was tasked with the review of the sanctions regime on 14 April 2016 by the Canada’s House of Commons.
The Committee held the review from October 2016, by conducting 13 hearings where different experts testified on the legislation. The committee assessed related policy issues from government officials, academics, researchers, stakeholders and practitioners.
Today, the Committee published its final report recommending the Government adopts the Magnitsky sanctions.
As part of its recommendations, the Foreign Affairs Committee called for the Government to publish a list of sanctioned persons:
“The Government of Canada should produce and maintain a comprehensive, public and easily accessible list of all individuals and entities targeted by Canadian sanctions containing all information necessary to assist with the proper identification of those listed.”
The Foreign Affairs Committee also recommended that the Government publishes an annual report on the implementation of the sanctions regime.
“The Government of Canada should amend the Special Economic Measures Act to require the production of an annual report by the Minister of Foreign Affairs, to be tabled in each House of Parliament within six months of the fiscal year-end, which would detail the objectives of all orders and regulations made pursuant to that Act and actions taken for their implementation.”
The next step is for the Canadian government to consider the parliament’s recommendation and draft legislation.
For more information, please contact:
Justice for Sergei Magnitsky
+44 207 440 1777