Canada backs sanctions against foreign officials in abuse cases
By David Ljunggren
Canada's Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland gestures as she arrives to pose for a family photo during a G7 for foreign ministers in Lucca, Italy April 11, 2017. REUTERS/Max Rossi
OTTAWA (Reuters) - Canada backs imposing sanctions on officials from Russia and other nations who are deemed guilty of human rights violations, Foreign Minister Chrystia Freeland said on Wednesday, pressuring Moscow over the high-profile case of a dead whistleblower.
Freeland said Canada's Liberal government supported draft legislation inspired by the case of Sergei Magnitsky, an anti-corruption lawyer who died in 2009 after a year in a Russian jail.
The proposed Sergei Magnitsky Law would let Ottawa seize the assets and property of foreign officials. The bill, proposed by an opposition legislator, has widespread backing and is certain to become law.
"Our government supports expanding the scope under which sanctions measures can be enacted ... to include cases of gross violations of human rights and foreign corruption," Freeland told Parliament, citing strong global interest in the Magnitsky case.
"I truly believe this is the direction the world is going and I think it will send a strong message," she added.
In 2012, the United States adopted a law freezing any U.S. assets of Russian investigators and prosecutors said to have been involved in the detention of Magnitsky, who had alleged major tax fraud by Russian officials. In retaliation, Moscow barred Americans from adopting Russian children.
The Canadian announcement is set to chill ties further with Moscow, which Freeland and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau have condemned over the 2014 Russian annexation of Crimea.
Representatives at the Russian Embassy in Ottawa were not immediately available for comment.
The bill says Canada can punish those "responsible for, or complicit in, extrajudicial killings, torture or other gross violations of internationally recognised human rights" against people who try to expose illegal activity by government officials or promote human rights.
Freeland took over as foreign minister in January from Stephane Dion, who showed less enthusiasm for the proposed law.
"We are delighted the government has finally stopped dragging its feet on a global Magnitsky-style sanctions regime," said Peter Kent, foreign affairs spokesman for the opposition Conservative Party.
Moscow banned Freeland in 2014 in response to Canadian sanctions against Russian officials over Crimea.
Last month Britain formally approved legal amendments allowing authorities to freeze the assets of alleged human rights violators. The measure was inspired by Magnitsky's death.
The Kremlin's own human rights council has said there was evidence suggesting Magnitsky was beaten to death. But President Vladimir Putin has dismissed allegations of foul play, saying Magnitsky died of heart failure.
(Reporting by David Ljunggren; Editing by Peter Cooney and Leslie Adler)
Police issue photo of Manchester attacker, believe bomb made in city apartment Salman Abedi, the bomber behind the Manchester suicide bombing, is seen in this image taken from CCTV on the night he committed the attack in this handout photo released to Reuters on May 27, 2017. Greater Manchester...READ MORE...
G7 leaders divided on climate change, closer on trade issuesBy John Irish and Crispian Balmer U.S. President Donald Trump gestures while flanked by Tunisia's President Beji Caid Essebsi (L) and Niger’s President Mahamadou Issoufou (R) at the G7 Summit expanded session in Taormina, Sicily, Italy...READ MORE...
Music legend Gregg Allman dies at 69By Brandon Griggs, CNN (CNN)Gregg Allman, a founding member of the Allman Brothers Band who overcame family tragedy, drug addiction and health problems to become a grizzled elder statesman for the blues music he loved, has died. He was 69. Allman died due to...READ MORE...
UK lowers attack threat level as police close in on bomber's networkBy Michael Holden People write messages on an English national flag during a vigil for the victims of an attack on concert goers at Manchester Arena, in Royton, near Manchester, Britain May 26, 2017. REUTERS/Phil Noble LONDON...READ MORE...