Michael MacKay, Radio Lemberg, 17.11.2017
Lithuania passed a “global Magnitsky” law on November 16, by a unanimous vote in the Seimas. Lithuania passed amendments to the Law on the Legal Status of Aliens which make it the fifth country to pass global Magnitsky human rights legislation – after the United States, the United Kingdom, Estonia, and Canada. Lithuania’s Magnitsky law refuses entry to Lithuania to persons who have been involved in human rights abuses, money laundering and corruption. It is a “global Magnitsky” law, and does not single out Russian human rights abusers over human rights abusers from other countries. Human rights are universal, and national laws for the protection of human rights have to have universal scope if they are to be effective.
The date of the passage of Lithuania’s global Magnitsky law, November 16, holds particular significance. Eight years ago, on 16 November 2009, Sergei Magnitsky died in Matrosskaya Tishina prison in Moscow, Russia, after being falsely imprisoned, beaten, and denied medical treatment by corrupt Russian officials.
Every civilized country should enact global Magnitsky legislation. First and foremost must be Ukraine. Ukraine is the front-line state to Russian aggression against Europe. Crimea and part of Donbas have been invaded and are being illegally occupied by Russia. The human rights of Ukrainian citizens are being violated every day by corrupt Russian officials in the living hell that is the occupied zone. There is no excuse for Ukraine not to pass a Magnitsky law – it is essential to Ukraine’s anti-corruption efforts. Lithuania is a good friend to Ukraine: it is the only country which has supplied lethal military aid (ammunition) to Ukraine. Ukraine should honour Lithuania’s example, and pass a global Magnitsky law to defend the national security and human rights of Ukrainian citizens.
The European Union as a whole, as well as its constituent members, should apply Magnitsky sanctions to corrupt foreign officials who are abusers of human rights. The EU is supposed to speak with one voice when it comes to foreign policy. When the collective EU doesn’t have Magnitsky sanctions and some constituent members have them and others do not, a singular voice in the defence of international human rights is absent. As of today, corrupt Russian officials who abuse human rights cannot do business in Lithuania because of the amendments to the Law on the Legal Status of Aliens. But those same corrupt Russian officials who abuse human rights are free to do business in Germany – such as with Gazprom’s insidious “NordStream2” scheme to weaken Europe’s energy security and profit while doing so.
Lithuanian lawmakers sent a clear message with the the amendments to the Law on the Legal Status of Aliens. The message to corrupt foreign officials who abuse human rights is that there is no safe haven anywhere in the world where a Magnitsky law is in effect; there can be no profit from crimes against humanity. The message to people who suffer abuse under corrupt officials is that there is hope; the wider world sees the oppressed and will not let their suffering go unnoticed. Mantas Adomėnas, a member of the Seimas from the Homeland Union party, said, “That democratic part of Russian society, the people who sacrificed their lives and their destinies to prevent Putin from having full control of a large part of society are waiting for this message of freedom from our parliament.”
The corrupt Russian officials who tortured Sergei Magnitsky to death will always be fugitives from justice in jurisdictions where there is a global Magnitsky law. That was eight years ago, and further grave violations of human rights are being committed by corrupt Russian officials in the parts of Europe that have been invaded by the Putin regime, Crimea and some of Donbas. Human rights abuses, money laundering and corruption are endemic to other regimes all over the world, which is why Lithuania has passed a “global Magnitsky” law.
Every human being has dignity and worth and possesses universal rights. Every civilized country should enact legislation like Lithuania just did.