Canada backs idea of Russian Federation sanctions over human rights abuses

Magnitsky died in pre-trial detention in a Moscow jail in 2009 after accusing high-ranking officials of a $230-million tax fraud.

Canada’s Liberal government this week called for enactment of a bill allowing the seizure of assets of foreign officials involved in extrajudicial killings, torture, and other crimes against whistle-blowers or human rights activists. The bill, proposed by an opposition legislator, has widespread backing and is certain to become law.

“I truly believe this is the direction the world is going and I think it will send a strong message”, she added.

Freeland and 12 other Canadian politicians and activists are also on the Kremlin’s black list and have been barred from entering Russia due to their staunch criticism of Russian actions in Ukraine and its annexation of Crimea. “However, there no current Canadian law that authorizes the imposition of sanctions specifically for violations of global human-rights obligations in a foreign state or for acts of corruption”, Freeland said according to the Globe and Mail. Moscow sizes up the Canadian authorities decision to support a national version of the Sergei Magnitsky Act adopted in the USA that may be considered by the Canadian parliament, the Russian Foreign Ministry said in a commentary.

Representatives at the Russian Embassy in Ottawa were not immediately available for comment.

Freeland took over as foreign minister in January from Stephane Dion, who showed less enthusiasm for the proposed law.

Tension also exists between Ottawa and the Kremlin, which includes a Russian travel ban on Freeland, who was one of several Canadians placed on a Russian sanctions list in 2014 after Western sanctions were imposed on Russia following its annexation of Ukraine’s Crimea region. The measure was inspired by Magnitsky’s death.

Russian Federation responded to the Magnitsky Act by issuing its own blacklist, which includes U.S. officials linked to human rights violations, some of whom were involved in the construction and maintenance of the infamous detention center at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. But President Vladimir Putin has dismissed allegations of foul play, saying Magnitsky died of heart failure.