Friday, December 07, 2012

Magnitsky - Manning Laws

Russian poster boy Sergei Leonidovich Magnitsky (Сергей Леонидович Магнитский) was a Moscow lawyer & corporate auditor whose activism against Russian government corruption led to he himself being arrested & held without charge in Moscow's infamous prison Butyrka (Бутырская тюрьма). In 2009 Magnitsky died in police detention.

Magnitsky's death was variously blamed on negligence, torture, or poor medical care. His whistleblower claims of massive tax fraud and accusations against specific powerful officials clearly put him under great threat, and his close links to foreign business interests raised further suspicions.

Magnitsky's abuse & tragic death has become a cause célèbre around the world, a symbol of bad government that is corrupt, unaccountable and ruthless. The Magnitsky case also highlights collusion between the press, government officials and powerful private interests, who repackage stories as weapons for purging and realigning leadership factions. This is likely to become more pronounced with the passage in the USA of revised US-Russia trade legislation that demands Russian officials linked to human rights violations face travel restrictions & asset seizures

As the USA unilaterally puts together a "Magnitsky List" against Russians previously protected from accountability, the Russians are threatening to highlight dirty American officials who've similarly operated above the law. Might such checks & balances become a step forward for human rights?

Human rights violations are far too frequent in our world, with many governments turning a blind eye to torture, unilateral warfare, illegal military occupation, and extrajudicial punishments. Magnitsky is one of tens of thousands murdered by assorted nations via bureaucratic difference.

Sadly, media relations budgeting determines who is freedom fighter or terrorist. Naming human rights offenders is a highly political process sure to fuel further collusion between media & governments.

The Russians might highlight the cases of Daniel Ellsberg or Bradley Manning or Muhammed Ali or Julian Assange or a host of others who've suffered retaliation or abuse for their efforts. Surely the USA has hundreds of weasels who've actively crushed human rights both home & abroad. String 'em up!

Who are the public employees responsible for extrajudicial killing and holding hostage huge swathes of our world? Ultimately our enslavement relies on faceless officials and belief in their immunity.