Canada’s government decided Wednesday to create legislation to expand the country’s international sanctions law to target gross human rights violators, Foreign Minister Chrystia Freeland told Parliament.
A Parliament committee agreed last month to support amending Canada’s sanctions rules to include rights violators, acting in honor of the Russian whistleblower Sergei Magnitsky, who died in a Moscow prison in 2009 after accusing officials of a $230 million tax fraud. Russia’s presidential council on human rights said the 37-year-old Magnitsky, who was an auditor for Hermitage Capital firm, was beaten and denied medical treatment while in jail.
The government’s decision is bound to further strain relations with Russia, which has reacted strongly to the imposition of Magnitsky-style legislation elsewhere.
After U.S. President Barrack Obama signed such legislation into law in 2012, Russia responded by banning American citizens from adopting Russian children. As of May, there were 44 Russian officials on the U.S. Magnitsky Act sanctions list, including five Russian officials involved in alleged human rights violations in the Magnitsky case.
Ottawa and Moscow have their own differences, which include a Russian travel ban on Freeland.