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PHR Applauds US Senate Approval of Magnitsky Act

For Immediate Release

PHR applauds today’s passage by the US Senate of legislation that would place sanctions on Russians implicated in the torture and death three years ago of a Russian anti-corruption lawyer. The vote was 92 to 4.

The Magnitsky Act would require the United States to place travel and financial restrictions on specific Russian officials associated with the 2009 death in prison of Sergei Magnitsky, who uncovered and made public a $230 million fraud by Russian police and tax officials.

An independent medical investigation of Magnitsky’s death last year by PHR concluded that he had suffered from calculated and deliberate neglect and inhumane treatment in prison, that ultimately led to his death.

“While Russia continues its consistent pattern of protecting those officials responsible for Mr. Magnitsky’s death, almost certainly from torture and deliberate medical neglect, today’s vote should provide his family with at least some measure of justice,” said Susannah Sirkin, deputy director of PHR.

The Magnitsky Act was attached to a bill granting Russia normal trade status with the United States—a development long sought by Russia. “Although the Magnitsky Act applies only to human rights violators in Russia,” Sirkin added, “it establishes a threshold that we can press for including in trade legislation with other countries as well.”

The Senate Foreign Relations Committee approved the Magnitsky Act last summer, and the House of Representatives approved it last month. President Obama is expected to sign the bill into law today.

Physicians for Human Rights (PHR) is a New York-based advocacy organization that uses science and medicine to prevent mass atrocities and severe human rights violations. Learn more here.

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