For Immediate Distribution
4 November 2013 – The widow and mother of late whistle-blowing lawyer Sergei Magnitsky along with 54 famous politicians, human rights activists and victims of human rights abuses are calling on politicians to implement Magnitsky Sanctions in Europe.
In the opening word to the new book, “Why Europe Needs a Magnitsky Law?”, Magnitsky’s mother Natalia urges European politicians to show courage, like her son had done despite being tortured in custody, and to enact the Magnitsky sanctions across the European Union, similar to the law adopted last year in the United States:
“My son’s life was short… He chose not to compromise himself and paid for that with his life… I do not believe that the law adopted in the US is anti-Russian, but that it introduces targeted restrictions for certain people failing to respect human rights and that this is fair, even if insufficient, punishment for them. And I hope the countries of the European Union will find the courage to follow the US.”
The Magnitsky sanctions comprise visa bans and asset freezes on individuals responsible for Mr Magnitsky’s ill-treatment and killing, the cover up of his death in custody, and other human rights violations. The sanctions have been imposed in the US under the “Sergei Magnitsky Rule of Law Accountability Act” which were approved with an overwhelming bi-partisan majority in the U.S. Congress and signed by President Barack Obama into law on 14 December 2012.
The book launch in the UK is hosted by British MP Dominic Raab, one of the book’s contributors, and by Fair Trials International, the justice organization for falsely accused, and Article 19, an organization fighting for freedom of expression and information. The book makes an emotive and rational case for why the Magnitsky sanctions must now be implemented in Europe.
Robert Buckland, MP, in his contribution to the book speaks of the moral duty to act:
“It is our right as a free country to …operate our borders in a way that we see fit. That is why it is now time for visa restrictions, at the very least, to be enacted against the Russian officials in this case…In my eyes, both professionally and personally, we have a moral duty to do what we can…in the absence of such moral leadership by the Russian government, we must send a clear message to those implicated in this scandal that it will not go unnoticed.”
Dominic Raab, MP, who initiated the Magnitsky motion in the British Parliament’s Backbench Committee, says it is in the UK’s interests to protect its borders and its financial system from Russian crime:
“We should try and protect ourselves from the spillover effect of these [Russian] crimes, and the idea of having visa bans and asset freezes is, in a sense, quite modest. We’re not saying that we can arrest people for committing these appalling crimes in Russia, just that they can’t travel to UK or invest their money here.”
Magnitsky’s widow, Natalia, writes in the conclusion to the book of her family horror that lasts to this day, four years after the killing of her husband:
“I still remember with horror that terrible day, which divided our lives into “before” and “after”, and I still keep thinking back to the tragedy that we experienced and continue to experience today…I still find it hard to believe that this happened to my husband, that this happened to our family, and this even happened in our time, in the 21st century.”
The new 299-page book was the brainchild of a Russian-French journalist Elena Servettaz. It is a powerful collection of 54 essays by European, U.S. and Canadian lawmakers, Russian human rights and civil society activists and victims of human rights abuse. The relatives of high-profile victims of human rights abuse in Russia speak in the book, including the daughter of Anna Politkovsksaya, the Russian journalist killed in 2006 in her apartment building after exposing human rights abuses in Chechnya, the father of Nadezhda Tolokonnikova, a singer of Pussy Riot punk group, sentenced in 2012 to two years in penal colony following a several-seconds long anti-Putin protest in a Russian church, and Marina Litvinenko, the widow of Alexander Litvinenko poisoned in London with radioactive polonium in 2006.
Vera Politkovskaya, daughter of Anna Politkovskaya, said:
“This [the Magnitsky sanctions] is the only way to fight these people [Russian officials “feeding off” the regime] and the defencelesssness of the absolute majority of the Russian citizens.”
“Targeted individual sanctions is the least the West can do to uphold its values and help those who do not have the legal protections of a democracy,” said Marina Litvinenko.
Elena Servettaz, the editor of “Why Europe Needs a Magnitsky Law?”, said:
“I am very happy that the launch of this book will take place in the British Parliament which has proved many times that issues of corruption and human rights really do matter… You will find here direct testimony from Russian citizens who have witness and faced injustice, prison terms and even murder. But above all, you will find here the ideas of those who are convinced that the Magnitsky Law in Europe is the only way to ensure such horrific events never happen again.”
The new Magnitsky book is available free of charge by contacting the editor at: firstname.lastname@example.org and will be downloadable online at: www.magnitskybook.com.
The book launch will take place tomorrow at noon at the British parliament and at 6:30 pm at the Free Word Centre (http://www.freewordcentre.com/info/visiting-us/) where it is hosted by Fair Trials International and Article 19 with contribution from English PEN.
For further information please contact:
Phone: +44 207 440 1777
Elena Servettaz, the editor of “Why Europe needs a Magnitsky Law?”