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Royal Town’s MP leads cross-party campaign to toughen sanctions against corrupt foreign officials

Andrew Mitchell MP is spearheading a cross-party campaign to toughen up the sanctions regime against dictators and human rights abusers from around the world. The cross-party campaign comes after the former Prime Minister, David Cameron, admitted that he regretted not introducing the “Magnitsky Act”.

The Act was named after Sergei Magnitsky, a Russian tax lawyer who investigated a £150 million fraud case which involved Russian officials. After reporting it to the authorities, he was himself detained on suspicion of aiding tax evasion, and died in custody.

Mr Magnitsky is said to have died of acute heart failure and toxic shock, caused by untreated pancreatitis. But an investigation by Russia's Presidential Human Rights Council found that he had been severely beaten.

Sergei Magnitsky's death had wide public resonance and the case became a symbol of the fight against corruption in Russia.

Last year, UK Parliament passed an amendment to the Criminal Finances Bill which now allows the Government to freeze the assets of international human rights violators in the UK. However, Sutton’s MP believes that the UK’s Magnitsky laws should be brought up to the international standard - as set by the US and Canada - which also gives the Government the power to ban the visas of human rights violators around the world.

Speaking in the House of Commons, Mr Mitchell said:
“[T]he reality is that officials from autocracies around the world who are guilty of appalling crimes come to London to live safely and comfortably without much interference from us.

“The [US] State Department recently published its Magnitsky list, which includes the son of Russia’s general prosecutor, a general from Myanmar implicated in ethnic cleansing…and a retired Pakistani colonel suspected of organ trafficking. Alarmingly, every single person on that list is able to travel to the United Kingdom.”

Following the debate, Mr Mitchell explained:
“This new amendment will address the perception that the United Kingdom has effectively laid out the welcome mat for dictators and human rights abusers from around the world. I am confident that it will attract support from Members on both sides of the House.”

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