On October 18, S-226, the Justice for Victims of Corrupt Foreign Officials Act (Sergei Magnitsky Law) received Royal Assent.
The Sergei Magnitsky Law, sponsored by Senator Raynell Andreychuk, provides “for the taking of restrictive measures in respect of foreign nationals responsible for gross violations of internationally recognized human rights.”
“Due to the hard work and efforts of so many parliamentarians and advocates, the Magnitsky Act is now the law of the land,” stated Paul Grod, National President of the Ukrainian Canadian Congress (UCC). “Its adoption will allow the Government of Canada to move swiftly to implement sanctions against Russian individuals and organizations responsible for violations of international law and the rights of Ukrainian and Russian citizens.”
The law allows Canada to target foreign officials who are responsible for human rights abuses and corruption by implementing asset freezes and travel bans against them. The Magnitsky Act is an important signal to the world that Canada will not tolerate the violation of internationally recognized human rights, and that officials who violate those rights are not welcome in Canada.
Canada’s Senate adopted the legislation in April, 2017. Member of Parliament James Bezan (MP, Selkirk-Interlake-Eastman) introduced the legislation in the House of Commons in May, 2017. The House unanimously adopted the legislation on October 4, and the Senate agreed to all amendments on October 17.
Upon the adoption of the Magnitsky Act, the Honourable Chrystia Freeland, Canada’s Minister of Foreign Affairs, stated, “Canada has a strong reputation around the world as a country that holds clear and cherished democratic values and stands up for human rights. This new law, which has received cross-partisan support in Parliament, is a clear demonstration that Canada takes any and all necessary measures to respond to gross violations of human rights and acts of significant foreign corruption.”
Currently, there are over 40 Ukrainian citizens illegally imprisoned by Russia, including Oleg Sentsov, Ilmi Umerov, Akhtem Chiygoz, Oleksander Kolchenko, Stanislav Klikh, Mykola Karpyuk, and many others. The Russian regime continues to ignore repeated calls by the international community for their immediate release.
The UCC calls on the Government of Canada to:
- Move swiftly to implement sanctions against Russian judges, prosecutors, investigators and other officials responsible for the illegal imprisonment and maltreatment of Ukrainian citizens;
- Establish specialized sanctions units at the Departments of Global Affairs and Finance in order to ensure that sanctions are implemented effectively and comprehensively.
- The full Magnitsky Law is available here: S-226, the Justice for Victims of Corrupt Foreign Officials Act (Sergei Magnitsky Law)
- Magnitsky legislation is named after the late Sergei Magnitsky, a Russian lawyer and fraud investigator who uncovered evidence of a major theft of tax money by Russian government officials – but was then arrested for it himself by Russian authorities, imprisoned, tortured and left to languish for 358 days before he died in jail at age 37;
- During the statutory review of Canada’s sanctions legislation by the House of Commons Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs and International Development , the UCC presented a brief to the Committee, which recommended the “swift adoption of an amendment to the Special Economic Measures Act and the Freezing Assets of Foreign Corrupt Officials Act that would allow the Government of Canada to implement sanctions against foreign officials who violate internationally accepted norms of human rights.” The UCC’s submission to the Committee is available here: UCC Position SEMA Statutory Review