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Boris Johnson urged to place Russia sanctions on G7 agenda

Britain should use this year’s meeting of Group 7 countries to call for coordinated sanctions against human rights abusers, senior MPs have told Boris Johnson.

In a letter to the Foreign Secretary, 16 MPs, including Tom Tugendhat, the Conservative chairman of the Commons foreign affairs committee and Yvette Cooper, the Labour chairman of the home affairs committee, ask Mr Johnson to propose including “Magnitsky sanctions” on the agenda for June’s G7 meeting in Canada.

The call came as politicians in the US and Canada made similar requests to Donald Trump and Justin Trudeau. In addition to the UK, US and Canada, the G7 comprises France, Germany, Italy and Japan. 

Last week Theresa May announced that the Government will introduce “Magnitsky amendments” to the Sanctions Bill, currently being debated in the Commons, targeting human rights abusers with visa bans and asset freezes.

The announcement came as part of a package of measures in response to a nerve-agent attack on a former spy in Salisbury, for which ministers have concluded Russia was responsible.

It follows similar legislation introduced in the US and Canada after a campaign by Bill Browder, a British financier whose lawyer, Sergei Magnitsky, was killed in prison while investigating a fraud against his firm.

In the letter, the MPs, who also include Helen Goodman, the Labour shadow foreign minister, Andrew Mitchell, the former Tory chief whip, and Richard Benyon, a member of Parliament’s intelligence security commitee, state: “If only a few countries impose these measures, there is an incentive for the worst perpetrators to travel to and move their money to places where there are no such sanctions. 

Laurie Bristow, the British ambassador to Russia, leaves the Russian foreign ministry after being summoned to a meeting on Saturday over the UK’s response to the Salisbury attack

Credit:
DAVID MDZINARISHVILI/REUTERS

“As the G7 is composed of the most important economic players in the world, this group should be the first to embrace Magnitsky sanctions as a necessary policy tool.”

They add: “The only way to change the behaviour of evil regimes around the world is to create powerful and personal penalties for committing atrocities. Words are cheap, but targeted asset freezes and visa bans are real and compelling consequences, which every dictator hates.”

A separate letter to Mr Trump by senators Roger Wicker and Benjamin Cardin, states: “The G7 summit is a natural venue to further advance the Magnitsky standard globally.

“The United States has long been a global leader in advancing universal human rights and fighting corruption. It is our hope that you will consider the G7 an opportunity to call on our close partners to do the same.”

Meanwhile, James Bezan, the Canadian MP who campaigned for the introduction of the country’s own Magnitsky law, wrote to Mr Trudeau stating: “As the G7 president, Canada should lead by example by expanding its own Magnitsky sanctions list while working with our allies to create a unified set of sanctions to hold Russian and other foreign officials accountable for their violations of human rights and corruption.”

MPs who had been campaigning for the introduction of Magnitsky amendments to the Sanctions Bill welcomed Mrs May’s announcement last week but warned that the Government was resisting an “independent review” mechanism which they say is a key element needed to ensure the new laws “actually get used”.

Article Source : https://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2018/03/17/boris-johnson-urged-place-russia-sanctions-g7-agenda/

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