Originally sent by Hermitage Capital 2/27/12
Following the annual meeting of the OSCE Parliamentary Assembly in Vienna last week, Coskun Coruz, the OSCE Human Rights Rapporteur and MP from the Netherlands called for the prosecution of Russian officials in Magnitsky case, the termination of his posthumous trial and the end of intimidation of his family by the Russian authorities.
Coskun Coruz, OSCE Parliamentary Assembly Rapporteur of the Committee on Democracy, Human Rights and Humanitarian Questions, said:
“As a member of the OSCE, Russia should fulfill its human rights obligations and adhere to the norms and values of the OSCE. In the harrowing death of lawyer Sergei Magnitsky, Russia’s lawlessness is absolutely not fitting into OSCE ‘s values. What is particularly shocking is the unprecedented prosecution of a dead man. As a lawyer and politician, I will do everything in my power and the power of the OSCE to call on Russia to prosecute Magnitsky’s killers, to cease the posthumous prosecution against him and to protect his family.”
Mr Coruz was responding to an appeal from Ludmila Alexeeva, chair of the Moscow Helsinki Group, Russia’s leading human rights NGO. Ms Alexeeva called upon OSCE’s leadership and parliamentarians to intervene in the case of Sergei Magnitsky. In a strongly-worded letter sent on the eve of the OSCE winter meeting in Vienna, Ms Alexeeva urged OSCE members to do everything possible to bring to justice those responsible for Mr Magnitsky’s horrific death in Russian police custody. She called for an end to the unprecedented posthumous trial of Sergei Magnitsky as well as pressure put on his family by the Russian authorities.
“The prosecution of the dead lawyer and the intimidation and harassment of his family by police is a new low and an alarming symptom of the complete degradation of the Russian justice system and the absent rule of law. Posthumous prosecutions were not practiced even during the Stalin purges,” said Ms Alexeeva in her appeal to the OSCE.“They are clearly carried out …to intimidate and silence victims of police abuse and their relatives and to exonerate police officers implicated in serious crimes.”
In addition to Mr Coruz’s call for justice, William Browder, CEO of Hermitage Capital, was invited to testify at the OSCE Parliamentary Assembly in Vienna last week. In his testimony, Mr Browder described in detail the torture and murder of Mr Magnitsky in custody and the pressure on his surviving family. He called on all parliaments in OSCE countries to pass visa sanctions and asset freezes on the Russian officials in the Magnitsky case.
“Selectively cancelling visas and freezing assets may not be real justice in a case like this, but if we are successful in creating some real and painful consequences in a situation where, until now, these people have enjoyed absolute impunity, perhaps the next time a Russian investigator is asked by his boss to torture a false confession out of an innocent prisoner, he may think twice… This is a new weapon in the fight against human rights abuses,” said Mr Browder.
In her appeal to OSCE, Ms Alexeeva reiterated Russia’s international obligations as a member of the OSCE to ensure that law enforcement officers pursue “legitimate aims” and “are subject to judicial control and are held accountable” as per paragraph 21 of the Document of the Moscow Meeting of the Conference on the Human Dimension.
“In no way such actions [posthumous trial of Mr Magnitsky and pressure on his family by the Russian authorities] can be viewed as an internal affair of Russia as they run contrary to Russia’s international obligations. The duty of the OSCE is to safeguard universally recognized human rights and freedoms and the rule of law in the territory of the participating countries,” said Ms Alexeeva.
“I ask you to adopt a special Resolution of the OSCE Parliamentary Assembly and undertake all other possible efforts to protect the family of Sergei Magnitsky from the police tyranny and to urge the Russian government without any further delay to bring to account law enforcement officers implicated in massive corruption, false arrest and torture of Magnitsky, and to put an end to the intimidation of his family,” said Ms Alexeeva in her letter addressed to Petros Efthymiou, OSCE Parliamentary Assembly President, Eamon Gilmore, OSCE Chairperson-in-Office and Irish Deputy Prime Minister, Coskun Coruz, Rapporteur of the OSCE Parliamentary Assembly’s Committee on Human Rights, and OSCE Vice Presidents.
Last week, a Moscow court rejected two lawsuits from the Magnitsky family against the Russian Investigative Committee for its failure to investigate and bring high-ranking Russian police officers to trial for the false arrest, torture and murder of the 37-year old whistle-blowing lawyer. Russian courts also rejected Magnitsky mother’s requests for access to her son’s tissue samples and their independent medical examination. The Investigative Committee in charge of Magnitsky’s death investigation is the same body that concealed Mr Magnitsky’s testimonies about the $230 million corruption of Interior Ministry and tax officials. The Investigative Committee also refused to investigate the illicit multi-million dollar wealth of the families of those officials.