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For Immediate Release

PHR Applauds US Senate Approval of Magnitsky Act

Cambridge, MA - 12/06/2012

PHR applauds today’s passage by the US Senate of legislation that would place sanctions on Russians implicated in the torture and death three years ago of a Russian anti-corruption lawyer. The vote was 92 to 4.

The Magnitsky Act would require the United States to place travel and financial restrictions on specific Russian officials associated with the 2009 death in prison of Sergei Magnitsky, who uncovered and made public a $230 million fraud by Russian police and tax officials.

An independent medical investigation of Magnitsky’s death last year by PHR concluded that he had suffered from calculated and deliberate neglect and inhumane treatment in prison, that ultimately led to his death.

“While Russia continues its consistent pattern of protecting those officials responsible for Mr. Magnitsky’s death, almost certainly from torture and deliberate medical neglect, today’s vote should provide his family with at least some measure of justice,” said Susannah Sirkin, deputy director of PHR.

The Magnitsky Act was attached to a bill granting Russia normal trade status with the United States—a development long sought by Russia. “Although the Magnitsky Act applies only to human rights violators in Russia,” Sirkin added, “it establishes a threshold that we can press for including in trade legislation with other countries as well.”

The Senate Foreign Relations Committee approved the Magnitsky Act last summer, and the House of Representatives approved it last month. President Obama is expected to sign the bill into law today.

Physicians for Human Rights (PHR) is an independent organization that uses medicine and science to stop mass atrocities and severe human rights violations. We are supported by the expertise and passion of health professionals and concerned citizens alike.

Since 1986, PHR has conducted investigations in more than 40 countries around the world, including Afghanistan, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Rwanda, Sudan, the United States, the former Yugoslavia, and Zimbabwe.

  • 1986 — Led investigations of torture in Chile gaining freedom for heroic doctors there
  • 1988 — First to document the Iraqi use of chemical weapons on Kurds providing               evidence for prosecution of war criminals
  • 1996 — Exhumed mass graves in the Balkans and Rwanda to provide evidence for               International Criminal Tribunals
  • 1997 — Shared the Nobel Peace Prize for the International Campaign to Ban Landmines
  • 2003 — Warned US Policymakers on health and human rights conditions prior to and               during the invasion of Iraq
  • 2004 — Documented genocide and sexual violence in Darfur in support of international               prosecutions
  • 2010 — Investigated the epidemic of violence spread by Burma’s military junta
  • 2011 — Championed the principle of noninterference with medical services in times of               armed conflict and civil unrest during the Arab Spring
  • 2012 — Trained doctors, lawyers, police, and judges in the Democratic Republic of the               Congo, Kenya, and Syria on the proper collection of evidence in sexual               violence cases
  • 2013 — Won first prize in the Tech Challenge for Atrocity Prevention with MediCapt, our               mobile app that documents evidence of torture and sexual violence

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