On December 17, 2015, the U.S. Senate passed the Global Magnitsky Human Rights Accountability Act. The Act directs the U.S. president to sanction human rights abusers in foreign countries, including banning their entrance to the United States and freezing any of their assets that are held in American financial institutions or on American soil.
VOA interviewed two guest speakers for a satellite TV program, who Joined VOA in discussiong the Global Magnitsky Act’s implications and its potential effect on China’s human rights situation. They were Zhou Fengsuo, former 1989 Tiananmen student leader and founder of Humanitarian China and Cao Yaxue, co-founder of chinachange.org, a website devoted to news and commentary related to civil society, the rule of law, and human rights activities in China.
Ms. Cao explained that the Global Magnitsky Act is a worldwide extension of the 2012 Sergei Magnitsky Rule of Law Accountability Act, inspired by the death of Sergei Magnitsky, a Russian tax lawyer who represented American businessman Bill Browder’s firm, [Heritage Capital Management, a firm which often supplied the media with information on corporate and government corruption] in Russia. Magnitsky blew the whistle on the largest known tax fraud in Russian history. He was arrested, tortured, and denied access to medical care until he died in 2009.
The VOA host raised the question whether the Act, if it passes the House and is signed into law, would apply to top officials like Jiang Zemin, who faces lawsuits in several countries. Ms. Cao replied that she had raised the same question to Bill Browder, who had pushed for the passage of the Act. Browder’s answer was that the Act would apply to human rights abusers as high as the deputy minister level. She gave specific names of Chinese officials who were at that level or below who had been involved in torturing prominent human rights activists such as attorney Gao Zhisheng.
Mr. Zhou revealed that a Chinese version of the act could be in the offing, while this global act already sends a warning to Chinese rights abusers, many of whom have families in the United States.
Source: Deutsche Welle Chinese, January 1, 2016.