Sunday

23rd Sep 2018

Estonia joins US in passing Magnitsky law

  • Browder earlier accused some Estonian banks of being part of the money laundering chain (Photo: Steve Jurvetson)

Estonia has voted to ban foreigners deemed guilty of human rights abuses from entering the country, in a law inspired by the Sergei Magnitsky case.

The law, passed unanimously by parliament on Thursday (8 December), entitles Estonia to forbid entry to people if "there is information or good reason to believe” that they took part in activities which resulted in the “death or serious damage to health of a person” or their “unfounded conviction … for criminal offence on political motives”.

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Support quality EU news

Get instant access to all articles — and 18 year's of archives. 30 days free trial.

... or join as a group

It comes as an amendment to Estonia’s 1998 Obligation to Leave and Prohibition on Entry Act.

The law is unofficially named after Sergei Magnitsky, a Russian auditor who died in 2009 in unclear circumstances in prison after exposing high-level corruption.

Eerik-Niiles Kross, an MP from Estonia’s Reform Party and the country’s former intelligence chief, who proposed the legislation, said: “We will finally have the ability to ban entry into Estonia for those types of people who beat Magnitsky to death in jail and those who tortured Nadiya Savchenko.”

Savchenko is a former Ukrainian airforce pilot, captured in Ukraine and put on trial in Russia, who was released and sent back to Ukraine in May.

Magnitsky’s former employer, Bill Browder, a British businessman who became a rights campaigner after Magnitsky’s death and who has lobbied EU and US authorities to go after Magnitsky’s killers, hailed the move as his first breakthrough in Europe.

“To have the first European Magnitsky law passed in a country which borders Russia is a fitting tribute to Sergei Magnitsky, whose murder in Russia inspired this legislation,” he said in a statement.

The Estonian law still needs to be signed by the president.

The vote comes the same day as the US Senate, also on Thursday, passed a law extending the scope of its previous Magnitsky law.

The Sergei Magnitsky Rule of Law Accountability Act of 2012 imposed travel bans and asset freezes on Russian officials deemed guilty of human rights abuses.

Thursday’s Global Magnitsky Human Rights Accountability Act extends the reach of human rights-based sanctions beyond Russia and adds corruption to the list of sanctionable offences.

The new law “sends a clear message that if you violate the human rights and civil liberties of others, the United States will hold you accountable”, Republican senator John McCain said.

The British parliament is likewise preparing to a vote on a new law, named after Magnitsky, to let authorities seize the UK-based assets, such as luxury homes, of foreign human rights abusers.

“People with blood on their hands for the worst human rights abuses should not be able to funnel their dirty money into the UK”, Dominic Raab, the Tory party MP who tabled the amendment, told The Guardian, a British newspaper on Sunday.

Magnitsky uncovered that senior Russian officials and the Russian mafia embezzled $230 million from the Russian taxpayer and laundered the money in several EU jurisdictions and in the US.

Subsequent revelations in the so-called Panama Papers leaks showed that some of the funds flowed to a musician, Sergei Roldugin, who is a crony of Russian leader Vladimir Putin.

Browder's campaign has seen millions of euros of the illicit money frozen in bank accounts across Europe.

Russian authorities have pushed back with a lobbyist and propaganda campaign in Brussels and in Washington claiming that Browder stole the money and made up the Magnitsky story.

It has worked with authorities in Cyprus, a mini tax haven, to dig for dirt on Browder’s firms there.

The British rights campaigner has also received death threats and is often forced to travel with a security detail.

MEPs clarify position on Magnitsky sanctions

Senior MEPs from the EU parliament’s main groups have urged diplomats to impose sanctions on Russian officials over the killing of anti-corruption activist Sergei Magnitsky.

EU parliament hosts Russian propaganda circus

Russian TV, blacklisted officials, and lobbyists in the EU parliament on Wednesday hurled accusations at a deceased Russian lawyer and attack EU institutions.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. NORDIC COUNCIL OF MINISTERSThe vital bioeconomy. New issue of “Sustainable Growth the Nordic Way” out now
  2. NORDIC COUNCIL OF MINISTERSThe Nordic gender effect goes international
  3. NORDIC COUNCIL OF MINISTERSPaula Lehtomaki from Finland elected as the Council's first female Secretary General
  4. NORDIC COUNCIL OF MINISTERSNordic design sets the stage at COP24, running a competition for sustainable chairs.
  5. Counter BalanceIn Kenya, a motorway funded by the European Investment Bank runs over roadside dwellers
  6. ACCACompany Law Package: Making the Best of Digital and Cross Border Mobility,
  7. IPHRCivil Society Worried About Shortcomings in EU-Kyrgyzstan Human Rights Dialogue
  8. UNESDAThe European Soft Drinks Industry Supports over 1.7 Million Jobs
  9. Mission of China to the EUJointly Building Belt and Road Initiative Leads to a Better Future for All
  10. IPHRCivil society asks PACE to appoint Rapporteur to probe issue of political prisoners in Azerbaijan
  11. ACCASocial Mobility – How Can We Increase Opportunities Through Training and Education?
  12. Nordic Council of MinistersEnergy Solutions for a Greener Tomorrow

Latest News

  1. Brexit and MEPs expenses in the spotlight This WEEK
  2. Wake-up call on European Day Against Islamophobia
  3. Sound of discord at 'Sound of Music' Salzburg summit
  4. Salzburg summit presses for bigger Frontex mandate
  5. UK's post-Brexit plan 'will not work', EU says
  6. Airbnb agrees to clarify pricing for EU
  7. Libya keeps coast guards rejected by the EU
  8. EU divisions on menu at Salzburg dinner

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. UNICEFWhat Kind of Europe Do Children Want? Unicef & Eurochild Launch Survey on the Europe Kids Want
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Countries Take a Stand for Climate-Smart Energy Solutions
  3. Mission of China to the EUChina: Work Together for a Better Globalisation
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersNordics Could Be First Carbon-Negative Region in World
  5. European Federation of Allergy and AirwaysLife Is Possible for Patients with Severe Asthma
  6. PKEE - Polish Energy AssociationCommon-Sense Approach Needed for EU Energy Reform
  7. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Region to Lead in Developing and Rolling Out 5G Network
  8. Mission of China to the EUChina-EU Economic and Trade Relations Enjoy a Bright Future
  9. ACCAEmpowering Businesses to Engage with Sustainable Finance and the SDGs
  10. Nordic Council of MinistersCooperation in Nordic Electricity Market Considered World Class Model
  11. FIFAGreen Stadiums at the 2018 Fifa World Cup
  12. Mission of China to the EUChina and EU Work Together to Promote Sustainable Development

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us