The U.K. House of Commons this week passed by unanimous vote a draft bill that would allow the British government to freeze the U.K. assets of international human rights violators in the United Kingdom.
The U.K. House of Commons on Feb. 21 unanimously passed the Magnitsky amendment to the Criminal Finances Bill, a measure that would allow the seizing of assets of human rights violators connected to a “gross human rights abuse.” This new clause extends the meaning of “unlawful conduct” for purposes of Part 5 of the Proceeds of Crime Act 2002 to include “conduct in other countries that constitutes the gross human rights abuse or violation of a person who has sought to expose illegal activity of a public official or person acting in an official capacity, or to promote human rights,” the legislation states. Part 5 confers civil recovery powers in relation to property that has been obtained through unlawful conduct.
The Magnitsky amendment was inspired by Sergei Magnitsky, a Russian lawyer and auditor who died in a Moscow detention center in 2009 after revealing alleged corruption committed by the highest levels of the Russian government.
The legislation still needs to be adopted by the House of Lords to become law. If passed, the United Kingdom would be the third country, after Estonia and the United States, to pass Magnitsky sanctions legislation. Canada and the EU are currently considering their own versions of the act.