House Passes Bill Barring Russian Human Rights Abusers from U.S. | Freedom House

House Passes Bill Barring Russian Human Rights Abusers from U.S.

Washington

Freedom House applauds the passage of the Sergei Magnitsky Rule of Law Accountability Act by the House of Representatives on Friday and calls on the Senate to pass the legislation as soon as possible.  The Magnitsky Act, as it is known, was passed with overwhelming bipartisan support as part of a larger bill that normalizes trade relations with Russia and Moldova, which Freedom House also supports.

The bill, named after Russian lawyer Sergei Magnitsky who died in jail after exposing a multimillion-dollar fraud by Russian officials, would place visa bans and asset freezes on Russian officials involved in human rights abuses.  The legislation’s passage falls on the three year anniversary of Magnitsky’s murder in prison due to abuse and lack of medical treatment after he was accused of the very fraud he exposed.

“Corrupt Russian officials involved in gross human rights abuses should not be allowed the privilege to travel to the U.S. or use our financial system,” said David J. Kramer, president of Freedom House. “Tying normalization of trade to accountability for human rights abuses honors the sacrifice of Sergei Magnitsky and countless others who have been targeted, jailed, and killed for speaking out, spotlighting corruption, and exercising their fundamental freedoms.  The Magnitsky Act targets only those responsible, not Russia as a whole, and demonstrates that the U.S. Congress will not stand by silently in the face of such egregious crimes."

The Senate version of the legislation, which also enjoys strong bipartisan support,  looks to extend the punitive measures to human rights abuse cases outside of Russia as well.

“It’s only with the hard work of the House and Senate sponsors, Congressman Jim McGovern and Senator Ben Cardin, that passage of the Magnitsky Act is possible,” said Kramer.  “We thank them for their dedication and urge the Senate to pass the legislation as soon as possible so that blatant human rights abusers can no longer enjoy unfettered access to the United States.”

Russia is rated Not Free in the 2012 editions of Freedom House’s Freedom in the World and Freedom of the Press surveys and Partly Free in Freedom House’s Freedom of the Net 2012 survey.

For more information, visit:

Freedom in the World 2012: Russia

Nations in Transit 2012: Russia

Freedom of the Press 2012: Russia

Freedom on the Net 2012: Russia

Blog: Freedom at Issue

Open Letter: Statement of International Concern on Russia

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Freedom House is an independent watchdog organization that supports democratic change, monitors the status of freedom around the world, and advocates for democracy and human rights.

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