Opposition Senator Leila M. de Lima is elated over growing efforts from global leaders to penalize human rights offenders around the world by adopting up a human-rights sanctions regime that is patterned after the US Magnitsky Act.
De Lima, a known prisoner of conscience, said the collective efforts from human rights defenders across the globe to create a US-style Magnitsky Act could serve as a warning to all dictators and human rights violators that justice is catching up on them.
“A European Magnitsky Act is a giant leap towards winning the fight for truth, justice and human rights globally as it is a useful weapon to ensure that abusive leaders cannot easily get away with the crimes they committed,” she said.
“I am grateful that more and more leaders are seeing the power of the Magnitsky Act and how we can utilize it to end the impunity for human rights violations in different parts of the world. These developments underscore the universality of human rights and borderless accountability,” she added.
Foreign ministers of the European Union (EU) have reportedly “agreed to launch the preparatory work for a global sanctions regime to address serious human rights violations” which would be the union’s equivalent of the US Magnitsky Act.
According to EU’s new chief diplomat Josep Borrell, the move “will be a tangible step
reaffirming the EU’s global lead on human rights” because it would give them “much more strength and much more capacity to act.”
The Magnitsky Act, enacted by the Obama administration, was named after Russian tax lawyer Sergei Magnitsky who experienced reprisal after he uncovered a tax fraud scheme linked to Russian officials. He was jailed in Russia and later died.
The Magnitsky Act, or the Global Magnitsky Human Rights Accountability Act, authorizes the US government to sanction human rights offenders by banning entry into the US and freezing the assets of those involved in his persecution and death. It has later on become a powerful tool for enforcing accountability for human rights abuses perpetrated by repressive regimes.
Aside from EU, Canada Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has also recently directed his Foreign Minister François-Philippe Champagne to support victims of human rights abuses globally by building on the US Magnitsky Act against rights violators and oppressors in different parts of the world.
De Lima, a known human rights defender here and abroad, said she hopes that more voices, groups and personalities from the country and abroad would lend their voice to defend human rights.
“We need to constantly speak out against human rights abuses, and remind dictators that the world is always watching,” she said.
Detained over trumped-up drug charges fabricated by the government, De Lima received support from the US Senate Foreign Relations Committee which unanimously approved a bipartisan resolution calling on the Philippine government to free her from detention and drop all charges against her.
US Senate Resolution No. 142, primarily authored by Senators Marco Rubio and Edward Markey, adopted amendments introduced by Sen. Benjamin Cardin that involved the call for the US President to impose sanctions under the Magnitsky Act, namely, entry ban and US asset freeze, to government officials responsible for “orchestrating” De Lima’s arrest and prolonged detention. (30)