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Committee passes Magnitsky Act to deny U.S. visas to those responsible for human rights violations

(Washington, D.C.) – U.S. Senator Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) continued her leadership in addressing human rights abuses in Russia and around the world today as she joined other members of the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations to pass the Sergei Magnitsky Rule of Law of Accountability Act. Named after Sergei Magnitsky, a Russian lawyer who was falsely imprisoned, denied medical care, and ultimately died while in Russian custody for exposing government corruption, the Magnitsky Act would deny travel visas to people responsible for human rights violations in Russia and around the globe.  The bill will now go to the full Senate for consideration.

Shaheen, the chair of the Senate Foreign Relations Subcommittee on European Affairs, was an original cosponsor of the legislation, which was introduced in May 2011 by Senator Benjamin Cardin (D-MD).

“The Magnitsky bill is about much more than simply one man's tragic case,” Shaheen said. “This bill seeks to ensure that no one responsible for the abuse of human rights in Russia or anywhere in the world is granted the privilege of traveling to the United States or utilizing our financial system. Passing the Magnitsky bill will support human rights, civil society and freedom of expression in Russia and around the globe."

The bill would require the State Department to publish and update a public list of persons believed to be responsible for the detention, abuse or death of Magnitsky or responsible for other international human rights violations. Those individuals placed on this list would be denied travel visas to the United States and would be subject to financial sanctions imposed by the United States.

The bill has since received wide bipartisan support in the Senate, with 36 senators signing on as cosponsors. Shaheen convened and chaired a Senate Foreign Relations Subcommittee hearing this past December to consider the Magnitsky Act and to examine the state of human rights and the rule of law in Russia. She also spoke on the Senate floor in support of the legislation in February.