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Russia and Moldova Jackson-Vanik Repeal and Sergei Magnitsky Rule of Law Accountability Act of 2012

Floor Speech

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Date:
Location: Washington, DC

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Mr. MERKLEY. Madam President, we are about to take a momentous step forward in promoting human rights abroad thanks to my good friend from Maryland. Here is a bill that promotes a robust trade relationship while at the same time using this relationship to advance a very just cause: punishing past human rights abusers and inhibiting would-be human rights abusers.

Mr. CARDIN. I couldn't agree more with my friend from Oregon. As some of my colleagues know, I am the original sponsor of Sergei Magnitsky Rule of Law Accountability Act, the standalone bill that then became the human rights title in this combined PNTR bill. I am enormously proud of the work we have done on the bill, and I think it has real potential to not only hold people accountable who have committed past human rights abuses, but also potentially to prevent future human rights abuses from occurring. Those who are responsible for gross human rights abuses such as torture or extrajudicial killings, whether as private citizens or within organs of the State, now know that we, our markets, and our financial system will remain closed to them if they do so. These are real material consequences.

Mr. MERKLEY. I am very glad that my friend from Maryland has drawn attention to the forward looking provisions in this bill. It is crucial that while the Secretary of State makes the initial determination as to who should be on this list of gross human rights abusers, this is not the end of the story. On the contrary, there is a continuing oversight process built into the bill, along with requirements for ongoing updates to the list of human rights abusers. In fact, the chairpersons and ranking members of appropriate congressional committees may request a written response from the Secretary of State as to whether a particular individual has met the threshold required for addition to this list. So whether a person's human rights are being violated because he or she is a dissident journalist, or a member of an ethnic minority group, or LGBT, or simply a citizen exposing wrongdoing, the perpetrators will now face real risks and real scrutiny that they did not face before.

Mr. CARDIN. That is exactly right. Those who violate the human rights of such citizens through torture, extrajudicial killings, or other gross violations of international human rights will come to our attention. And I look forward to working with my friend from Oregon to help maintain this vigilance and oversight in the years to come.

Mr. MERKLEY. As do I.

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