The FCO’s human rights work in 2011

The FCO’s human rights work in 2011

Written evidence from Hermitage Capital Management

May 2012

Specifically addressing the cross-Government strategy on business and human rights, expected to be published later in 2012, and how it should define the relationship between the FCO’s human rights work and the promotion of UK economic and commercial interests in UK foreign policy.

Short summary:

· British businesses should be able to invest in all countries knowing that they are fully supported by the UK government should they experience business and human rights problems.

· At present there is an apparent conflict between the British government’s promotion of business and its professed support for human rights. Based on our experience, the desire to promote British business takes precedence at the expense of any serious practical promotion of human rights. While this may appear to be the rational strategy at a time of economic recession, upholding human rights actually protects British businesses operating abroad as the Hermitage Capital case demonstrates.

There are a number of measures which the British government could take which would give it the leverage to protect international commerce and at the same time promote human rights:

· The British government should impose visa bans and asset freezes on all individuals involved in human rights abuses and high level corruption affecting British businesses.

· It should conspicuously publish a list ‘naming and shaming’ those individuals banned from entering the UK based on their involvement in such activities.

· UK businesses should be warned against investing in countries with dubious human rights records and with a history of economic aggression – such as Russia – in the same way that the FCO offers travel warnings to British tourists.

Brief introduction:

William Browder, CEO Hermitage Capital and the Sergei Magnitsky Case

1. William Browder is the founder and CEO of Hermitage Capital Management, which was at one time the largest foreign investor in Russia with US$4.5 billion invested in the Russian economy.

2. Mr Browder was expelled from Russia in November 2005 after exposing corruption at the Russian enterprises in which he was investing. He was denied entry to the country and declared “a threat to national security” by the Russian government.

3. In 2008, Mr Browder’s lawyer, Sergei Magnitsky, uncovered a massive fraud committed by Russian government officials involving the theft of US$230 million of state taxes which Hermitage had paid in 2006. After testifying against the officials involved, Mr Magnitsky was arrested and imprisoned – without trial – at the instigation of those same government officials. He was tortured in an attempt to force him to retract his testimony and to falsely incriminate himself and his client. He refused to do so – notwithstanding extreme physical and psychological pressure. Magnitsky’s incarceration for almost a year was spent in appalling and insanitary conditions. When this led to a drastic deterioration in his health, he was denied any medical attention despite over twenty requests for assistance. He died on 16 November 2009 at the age of 37, leaving a widow and 2 young children.

4. Since Mr Magnitsky’s death, Mr Browder has been leading a worldwide media, legal and legislative campaign to get justice for Sergei Magnitsky. His efforts have included the introduction of legislation in the US Congress and the Canadian Parliament aimed at the implementation of visa bans and asset freezes on those responsible for perpetrating criminal and abusive activities contrary to the principles of the European Convention on Human Rights. Parliamentary initiatives have also been introduced in the European Parliament, the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE), the OSCE Parliamentary Assembly and in the Parliaments of the UK, Sweden, Holland, Italy, Poland, Germany and Norway.

Some key facts from which the Committee can draw conclusions and put to other witnesses:

The mistreatment of Hermitage Capital and its staff leading to the death of Sergei Magnitsky is principally a British matter because William Browder is a British citizen and Hermitage is an English company.

However, in comparison to other less directly involved nations, Britain is very much taking a back seat in dealing with this case. Other countries have taken a series of political and economic initiatives supporting visa bans and asset freezes as a means of punishing human rights abusers from Russia whenever that country fails or refuses to take appropriate judicial action against such perpetrators.

1. United States – The United States Government has already banned the Russian government officials involved in the Magnitsky case from entering the US, and the US Congress is now actively considering legislation which would publically name those people, deny them visas and freeze their assets.

2. The “Sergei Magnitsky Rule of Law Accountability Act”, currently in front of both Houses of Congress, was widened so that any other gross violators of human rights could also be denied visas. This differs from traditional international sanctions which generally affect an entire population, by targeting specific individuals from enjoying the fruits of their corrupt labour.

3. Netherlands – In July 2011, the Dutch parliament, by unanimous vote of 150 to 0, passed a resolution demanding that the Dutch government impose visa and economic sanctions on the Russian officials who were responsible for the false arrest, torture and death of Sergei Magnitsky. The Sergei Magnitsky motion in the Dutch parliament was supported by politicians from both rul ing and opposition parties.

4. Switzerland – In May 2011, the Swiss General Prosecutor froze the bank accounts and assets of up to US$11 million belonging to some of the Russian government officials exposed for their role in carrying out the illegal tax refund uncovered by Magnitsky. The asset freezing was taken as an emergency measure by the Swiss General Prosecutor as part of a criminal investigation opened on March 7, 2011 in response to a complaint filed by Hermitage Capital against the Russian officials involved in the $230 million theft.

5. Poland – In December 2010, a vote was held in the Justice and Human Rights Committee of the Polish Sejm, condemning the lack of proper investigation into Magnitsky’s death. The motion was passed unanimously.

6. Sweden – In February 2012, 59 Swedish members of the Parliament from 7 of the 8 political parties signed a parliamentary petition to Swedish Prime Minister, Fredrik Reinfeldt, calling on him to impose visa sanctions on corrupt Russian officials involved in the Magnitsky case. The parliamentarians stressed that it is a matter of international importance and concern given Russia’s membership in the Council of Europe and WTO.

7. Council of Europe – In February 2012, 53 representatives at the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) from 29 countries co-signed Written Declaration No.49, “The Sergei Magnitsky Case”, which urges Russia to immediately prosecute the killers of Sergei Magnitsky. In the Written Declaration, PACE representatives call upon the Russian authorities to cease the intimidation of Magnitsky’s family and to grant the family an independent medical evaluation, which Russian investigators and courts have so far refused to do.

8. In March 2012, 69 PACE delegates from 29 countries signed a motion entitled: “Refusing impunity for the killers of Sergei Magnitsky”. The motion calls for a ‘dedicated report’ to investigate the death of Sergei Magnitsky and return the findings to the Assembly later this year. This comes after repeated motions and resolutions have had no effect in persuading the Russian Government to properly and thoroughly investigate Magnitsky’s death in pre-trial detention and the crimes he exposed.

9. European Parliament – The European Parliament has twice passed resolutions on the Magnitsky case, (December 2010 & December 2011) calling on all EU member states to impose visa sanctions and asset freezes on the Russian government officials involved in the false arrest, torture and death of Magnitsky.

10. In March 2012, a similar motion was passed in the EU-Russia Parliamentary Cooperation Committee of the European Parliament, which held an extraordinary meeting on the case of Sergei Magnitsky. This resulted in the unanimous adoption of a statement calling for immediate EU travel bans and asset freezes on the Russian officials responsible for the torture and death of Sergei Magnitsky.

Significantly, the European Parliament has already banned government officials from Belarus and Syria and their relatives, from entering the EU. As a member of the EU, the UK should similarly impose such targeted visa bans on government officials who act in a criminal fashion against the interests of British businesses and employees.

11. United Kingdom – In March 2012, Dominic Raab MP submitted a Backbench Committee Motion entitled: “Debate on Human Rights and the death of Sergei Magnitsky” . This debate was co-sponsored by 5 former Foreign Office Ministers, including three former Secretaries of State (Sir Malcolm Rifkin PC QC MP, The Rt Hon. Jack Straw and The Rt Hon. David Miliband). Following the debate, the motion was unanimously passed in the House of Commons. The motion calls on HMG to impose visa sanctions and asset freezes on the Russian officials to whom this paper has previously referred.

12. During an adjournment debate in January 2012 entitled: “Human Rights and case of Sergei Magnitsky led by The Rt Hon. Denis MacShane MP , the British Government was called upon to act on the Magnitsky case, in the same way that the European Parliament and USA have done. During the debate Mr MacShane also demanded that those individuals banned from entering the UK be publically named.

The UK has a confusing and inconsistent policy regarding visa bans. There is clearly no consensus between the UKBA, the Home Office and FCO on whether or not visa bans are desirable and how to implement them.

The UK has already banned individuals from Zimbabwe, Pakistan, the US, Syria, etc, with wide parliamentary and public support. The Magnitsky visa ban initiative would ban persons implicated in Russian corruption and human rights abuses. There should be no false distinctions when selecting whom to exclude from entering the UK if the offence relates to corruption and human rights abuses.

Public Naming of People Banned from Entering the UK

There is a lack of consistency regarding the public identification of banned individuals.

1. Hermitage Capital have regularly been told by the FCO and Home Office, in numerous letters and in response to written and oral questions tabled in the House of Commons and the House of Lords, that the UK Government does not publish the identity of banned individuals.

2. However, in May 2009, Home Secretary Jacqui Smith publically presented a list of persons she had banned from entering the UK between October 2008 and March 2009. In all, 22 people had been banned from the UK. A list of names can be found in the Appendix (Chart 1).

3. As well as those involved in hate crimes and terrorist activities, famous personalities such as US singer Chris Brown; US TV personality Martha Stewart; former Prime Minister of Thailand, Thaksin Shinawatra; Chilean Noble Prize winner Pablo Neruda; US ‘shock-jock’ Michael Savage and US Rapper Snoop Dogg have all, at some point, been banned from entering the UK. (See Appendix Chart 2.)

4. In May 2012, Home Secretary Theresa May announced that martial arts instructor Tim Larkin was denied a visa to the UK on the grounds of his promotion of violence through his self defense classes. The UK Border Agency stated that he had been excluded from Britain because his presence was not “conducive to the public good”. A Home Office statement said: “We can confirm that the individual in question is subject to an exclusion order.”

5. Decisions as to whether or not to name excluded persons keeps changing. All persons banned from entering the UK should be “named and shamed”, with relevant details available to the public.

Recommendations for action by the British Government which we would like the Committee to consider for inclusion in its Report to the House:

1. Legislate in favour of visa bans for proven human rights abusers.

2. Legislate in favour of freezing the assets of any person – especially government officials – proven to be involved in corruption.

3. The identity of excluded individuals should be made public and published on the UKBA and FCO websites.

4. FCO and UKBA should co-ordinate better in developing a policy pursuant to which visa bans are imposed and enforced. The identities of those who are barred from the UK should be flagged to all Embassies and border staff so that they are denied visas before departing for the UK and / or denied entry to the UK on arrival.

5. ‘Health’ warnings should be made for British companies investing in Russia and other countries with perceived high risk of corruption and weak ‘rule of law’ and judicial systems. This action should be carried out and co-ordinated between by the FCO, the Financial Services Authority, UKTI, British Chambers of Commerce and other government and business bodies dealing with British investment into foreign markets.

6. Make use of the high regard in which the UK is held by Russians and its general attractiveness to foreigners as leverage and not shy away from facing political conflict with Russia. The reason corrupt government officials from countries such as Russia deposit their money in British banks, buy properties and send their families here is because they are protected by our rule of law, a healthy judiciary and codes of ethics of business practice. The UK should not be backing away from imposing restrictions on persons who would seek to use this country as a means to ‘launder and hide’ their stolen and illegally gained wealth. hairy women займ онлайн на карту без отказа https://zp-pdl.com/apply-for-payday-loan-online.php https://zp-pdl.com/apply-for-payday-loan-online.php срочный займ

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