The Czech Republic to Enact the Magnitsky Act

Published: 11 May 2022

Jan LipavskýCzech Foreign Minister, Jan Lipavský, said his ministry is finalizing the country's Magnitsky Act. (Photo: Pirátská strana, Flickr, License)

By Zdravko Ljubas

The Czech Republic’s Foreign Ministry said on Monday that the country could soon adopt the Magnitsky Act - a law that targets persons and businesses implicated or affiliated with serious human rights breaches.

“In accordance with the government’s resolution, which instructed me to speed up the preparation of the so-called Magnitsky Act, we are now finalizing this law,” Czech Foreign Minister, Jan Lipavský, said in a statement Monday.

He stated that the draft paper would be submitted to the government in June.

The Magnitsky Act would allow the Czech Republic to impose sanctions on anyone who violated human rights outside of the EU penalty system, by freezing their assets or banning them from entering the country.

According to the Czech Foreign Ministry, Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has only accelerated the country’s efforts to enact the Magnitsky Act, which was supposed to be passed by the end of 2023.

Sergei Magnitsky was a Russian whistleblower and tax expert who, after uncovering high-level state corruption, was tortured in Russian captivity, and denied access to medical attention.

Magnitsky died in 2009 under mysterious circumstances after exposing a large-scale tax scam involving the investment firm Hermitage Capital Management in Russia.

He had claimed at the time that a convicted killer had essentially “stolen” ownership of Hermitage with the cooperation of Interior Ministry staff, officials from two Moscow tax offices, and 11 judges. The offenders illegally claimed the highest tax return in Russian history — US$230 million on behalf of Hermitage.

In 2012, the United States Congress enacted legislation allowing authorities to prosecute human rights violators and subsequently anyone suspected of corruption. Several countries, including Canada, the U.K., some Baltic countries and the EU followed suit and passed similar laws.

Minister Lipavský invited Bill Browder, an American-born British financier, political activist, and former Magnitsky’s employer, to visit the Czech Republic in June, as the preparations for the Czech Magnitsky Act near completion.

Browder is the one who urged the U.S. Congress to create the Magnitsky Act.