Justice for Sergei

National Post

November 16, 2010 marked the first anniversary of the tragic death in detention of Russian lawyer Sergei Magnitsky, who uncovered the largest tax fraud in Russian history and paid for it with his life. While his story is one of great moral courage and heroism, his saga shines a spotlight on the pervasive culture of corruption and impunity implicating senior government officials in Russia today.

Working as a tax attorney for Hermitage Capital Management in Moscow, an international investment fund founded by CEO William Browder, Magnitksy blew the whistle on widespread Russian government corruption, involving officials from six senior Russian ministries. The officials he testified against arrested and detained him, beginning a nightmare in which he was thrown into a prison cell without bail or trial, and systematically tortured for one year in an attempt to force him to retract his testimony.

Despite the physical and psychological pain Sergei Magnitsky endured from his captors, he refused to perjure himself, even as his health deteriorated. Denied medical care for the last six months of his detention, he died in excruciating circumstances at the age of 37, having developed a severe pancreatic condition while being held in the Butyrka prison — a notorious Czarist-era jail that also that also held Alexander Solzhenitsyn and Raoul Wallenberg.

While Magnitsky’s death has fuelled international outrage — including condemnations from U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and U.K. Foreign Minister William Hague — inside Russia the corrupt government officials responsible have never been brought to justice. In fact, they have even been rewarded for their criminality. Indeed, earlier this month, several of the officials responsible for Sergei’s death were granted top government awards for their “expert investigative work.”

The Wall Street Journal has described Magnitsky’s death as a “slow assassination.” The Moscow Public Oversight Committee called it a “murder to conceal a fraud.” Russian President Dmitry Medvedev ordered an investigation, but a year after it began — while several low-level prison officials have been dismissed — not a single senior official directly responsible has been held accountable.

On Nov. 12, the anti-corruption watchdog Transparency International posthumously awarded Mr. Magnitsky its prestigious Integrity Award, stating that “Sergei Magnitsky did what to most people seems impossible: battled as a lone individual against the power of an entire state. He believed in the rule of law and integrity, and died for his belief. Magnitsky, his heroic fight and the ideals he stood for must never be forgotten.

One might wonder: What is the Canadian connection to all this? While our legal recourses are limited — and the responsibility for bringing the perpetrators to justice lies essentially with the Russian authorities — there are things that we can, and indeed must, do to uphold the rule of law, to assure Russian human rights defenders that they are not alone, to protect Canadian business interests in Russia and, in particular, to remember and honour the heroic sacrifice of Sergei Magnitsky.

First, we must bring Canadian awareness and action to international efforts, beginning with last week’s International Parliamentary Premiere on Parliament Hill of the movie Justice for Sergei, viewings of which are also scheduled on Capitol Hill and in the U.K. and European Parliament. As the great Soviet dissident Andrei Sakharov said to me: “I do not know what will help the cause of human rights; I do know it will not be helped by silence.”

Second, the “naming and shaming” process to identify the perpetrators involved must begin. U.S. Senator Benjamin Cardin and the Helsinki Commission have released a list of 60 senior Russian officials — and related documentation detailing their responsibility. The ongoing impunity — and indeed rewarding — of Russian officials is as scandalous as it is shocking.

Third, Parliament must express our condemnation

of the events in this case. In that regard, a motion is expected to be adopted by the Subcommittee on International Human Rights of the Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs expressing our outrage at the corruption and impunity, and calling upon the Canadian government to take appropriate steps in this regard.

Fourth, the government of Canada should impose visa restrictions and asset freezes on the Russian officials involved. The fact that there has been no consequence for anyone who was part of this heinous web of corruption resulting in murder is simply unacceptable.

Fifth, we must call upon Russia to hold a comprehensive and transparent inquiry so as to bring the perpetrators to justice and to promote adherence to international standards of due process and the rule of law.

Tragically, Sergei Magnitsky is but the latest in a list of Russian heroes who lost their lives standing up for principle and truth. We can do no less than stand up for him.

– Irwin Cotler is the Member of Parliament for Mount Royal and a former minister of justice and attorney general of Canada. He has a long history of defending political prisoners in the former Soviet Union and Russia. займ на карту онлайн займ на карту без отказов круглосуточно https://zp-pdl.com https://zp-pdl.com/online-payday-loans-in-america.php займы без отказа

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