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European Parliament Urges EU To Adopt Legislation Like Magnitsky Act

Russian tax accountant Sergei Magnitsky, who had uncovered large-scale tax fraud, died in a Mosco prison in 2009.

BRUSSELS -- The European Parliament has overwhelmingly passed a resolution urging EU member states to adopt a sanctions framework similar to the Magnitsky Act in order to punish human rights offenders.

The resolution adopted on March 14 calls on the European Council, comprising representatives of all 28 EU member states, "to swiftly establish an autonomous, flexible and reactive EU-wide sanctions regime that would allow for the targeting of any individual, state and nonstate actors, and other entities responsible for or involved in grave human rights violations."

The resolution suggests that "an EU human rights sanctions regime to target individuals implicated in human rights abuses anywhere in the world should explicitly and symbolically carry Sergei Magnitsky's name."

The Magnitsky Act -- U.S. legislation adopted by the United States in 2012 and meant to punish Russian officials responsible for the 2009 death in a Moscow prison of Russian tax accountant Sergei Magnitsky, who had uncovered large-scale tax fraud -- applies globally since 2016.

The Global Magnitsky Act authorizes the U.S. government to sanction those who it sees as human rights offenders, freezing their assets, and ban them from entering the United States.

EU members Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, and Britain have introduced their own legislative framework to impose sanctions upon grave human rights abusers.

In November, Netherlands proposed that the EU should look into the possibility of targeting human rights abusers with asset freezes and visa bans no matter where they come from.

The creation of such a framework is currently being debated by EU diplomats in the Council.

Sources have told RFE/RL on condition of anonymity that it could be difficult to reach unanimity -- which is a requirement -- on a sanctions regime.

They also note that it is likely to mainly target suspects in Africa and Asia rather than Russian citizens, for example.

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    Rikard Jozwiak

    Rikard Jozwiak is the Europe editor for RFE/RL in Prague, focusing on coverage of the European Union and NATO. He previously worked as RFE/RL’s Brussels correspondent, covering numerous international summits, European elections, and international court rulings. He has reported from most European capitals, as well as Central Asia.