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Senate Passes New International Standard To Punish Gross Violators Of Human Rights

Press Release

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Location: Washington, DC

U.S. Senators Ben Cardin (D-MD), Joseph Lieberman (I-CT), Roger Wicker (R-MS), and Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) praised Senate action today that will send the Sergei Magnitsky Rule of Law Accountability Act to the President to be signed into law. This landmark legislation, passed in conjunction with Permanent Normal Trade Relations for Russia, sets a precedent for future trade and other bilateral agreements by prohibiting gross violators of human rights in Russia from traveling to the U.S and from using our financial system. This legislation serves as encouragement for champions of democracy, promoters of civil rights, and advocates of free speech across the globe that America stands firmly on their side.

"Today is yet another milestone in the search for justice for Sergei Magnitsky, and others like him who stand up against corruption and abuse of power. With this vote, we are setting a precedent for future trade agreements that tells the world that gross violators of human rights cannot escape the consequences of their actions even when their home country fails to act. Human rights cannot and should not be open to compromise," said Cardin, author of the Magnitsky bill. "Human rights violators in all corners of the world should understand that the United States is committed to support and defend human dignity and justice for those who stand up against oppression."

"Today marks a historic achievement for the cause of human rights and rule of law in Russia," said Lieberman. "By passing the Magnitsky Act, the Senate has lived up to its own best tradition of standing in solidarity with those struggling for freedom and justice in the world. Scoop Jackson would be proud."

"The Magnitsky Act is a simple, straightforward call for justice," said Wicker. "It signals to the world that America will uphold its commitment to the protection of human rights and the rule of law. PNTR with Russia in an important vehicle for American trade, and it should serve as a reminder for our country's role in promoting the advancement of human rights."

"The Magnitsky Act demonstrates that we stand unambiguously for rule of law, democracy and respect for human rights in Russia," Shaheen said. "Over the last six months, we have seen perhaps the worst deterioration in Russia's human rights record since the break-up of the Soviet Union. As we continue our stand against this pattern of corruption, abuse and a culture of fear, the United States has sent a clear message to Russia and the global community that we simply will not tolerate these fundamental violations of human rights."

Sergei Magnitsky was a 37-year-old Russian lawyer who uncovered massive fraud and corruption in Russia and then was arrested for his whistleblowing. Magnitsky died in 2009 after suffering torturous conditions in pre-trial detention, being repeatedly denied medical treatment. Those who committed the corruption uncovered by Magnitsky and those responsible for his death have not been brought to justice. In some cases, they have been promoted since Magnitsky's death. Since 2010, at the encouragement of Senator Cardin and his colleagues, the State Department has barred dozens of Russians implicated in Magnitsky's death from receiving travel visas.


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