U.S. lawmakers seek to expand human rights act from Russia to world

Reuters News
Posted: Jan 16, 2014 3:22 PM

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Two senior U.S. lawmakers introduced legislation on Thursday that would expand to all countries the "Magnitsky" act passed in late 2012 to penalize Russia for alleged human rights abuses.

Democratic Senator Ben Cardin of Maryland, who championed the original law, and Republican Senator John McCain of Arizona said their "Global Human Rights Accountability Act" would ensure human rights abusers from anywhere in the world are denied entry to the United States and barred from using U.S. financial institutions.

The Magnitsky Act was named for Sergei Magnitsky, a Russian whistleblower lawyer who died in his jail cell in 2009. Under the act, the White House designated a list of human rights abusers tied to Magnitsky's death who are subject to visa bans and asset freezes in the United States.

Moscow considers the Magnitsky Act outside interference in its affairs.

Cardin, a Maryland senator who championed the original law, had long pressed for it to be expanded to include human rights abusers from additional countries.

The new legislation is several steps from becoming law, but has attracted co-sponsors from both parties, including Mississippi Republican Senator Roger Wicker and Illinois Senator Richard Durbin. Durbin is the number two Democrat in the U.S. Senate.

(Reporting by Patricia Zengerle; editing by Gunna Dickson)