Canada Enacts Magnitsky-Style Law and Imposes Sanctions on 52 Foreign Nationals

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Friday, November 17, 2017
Peter Bowal and Colin McKay

On October 19, 2017, Canada’s “Magnitsky-style” law, the Justice for Victims of Corrupt Foreign Officials Act (Sergei Magnitsky Law) received royal assent and came into force. Consistent with the category of legislation identified with its namesake, the Magnitsky Law was enacted as a criminal law to prevent and combat gross human rights violations such as those suffered by the Russian tax lawyer. Mr. Sergei Magnitsky was detained for 11 months and eventually tortured to his death in a Moscow prison in 2009 for his role in uncovering a $230 million tax fraud scheme involving various high level Russian officials. This relatively brief legislation commences with an extraordinary 600-word Preamble that reads like an historical narrative of – and tribute to – Sergei Magnitsky, Alexander Litvinenko, Boris Nemtsov and Nadiya Savchenko. It is the exercise of legislation to serve as political condemnation of Russia for “gross violations of internationally recognized human rights.” Canada is the fourth country to enact such legislation, following the lead of the United States, the United Kingdom and Estonia.