International Sanction Regimes Against Endemic Corruption and Gross Human Rights Violations: Towards A European Magnitsky Act?

This event will take place on the 16th of May, 16.00-18.00, Council Room, Faculty of Sociology and Social Work (Schitu Măgureanu. nr.9), sector 5, Bucharest.

Speakers: Frank Elbers (ICUB) and Monica Macovei, Member of the European Parliament.

Moderator: Marian Zulean, ICUB, director of Social Science Division

The event will take place under the aegis of Black Sea Area Studies Initiative.

One of the first pieces of legislation that the European Parliament, Commission and Council will have to take up after the European elections is a draft for a “EU global human rights regime.” This law would allow the EU to impose visa bans and targeted sanctions on individuals anywhere in the world and is inspired by the US Magnitsky Act, named after a Russian accountant and lawyer. Sergei Magnitsky had discovered a massive tax fraud scheme, involving high-level Russian government officials and was found dead in his Moscow jail cell after having been tortured and denied medical treatment. Canada, the United Kingdom, Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania have already adopted “Magnitsky Acts”, whereas Australia, South Africa, Moldova and Ukraine are debating similar measures.

In a surprise move, the opposition MP’s of Uniunea Salvați România on 15 April tabled a human rights sanctions law named after the late Russian activist, in a “symbolic” boost for EU-level sanctions of the same type. It was signed by 33 MP’s out of 136, most of them from their own faction, but also by three deputies from the ruling PSD and two from the PNL, indicating broader support. The bill called for Romanian visa bans and asset freezes on people guilty of “torture, inhuman and degrading treatment, conviction on political or other grounds, [and] grave violations of internationally recognised human rights” but does not include corruption.

Are these new Magnitsky-type sanctions indeed more flexible and effective than older, primarily country-based sanction regimes? And do they indeed have a strong psychological effect and will deter (potential) human rights violators?

Frank Elbers is an Associated Member of ICUB. His BIO is available here.

Monica Macovei Member of the European Parliament, former Minister of Justice of Romania. Her BIO is available here.

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