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MPs seek to put travel ban law against human rights violators on G7 summit agenda

A group of Liberal MPs as well as an all-party group of MPs are asking Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to put Magnitsky-style laws on the agenda of the G7 summit in Charlevoix, Quebec this June 8-9. Magnitsky-style laws give countries the power to impose travel bans on human-rights abusers around the world.

The Globe and Mail reports, “Liberal MPs are preparing to send a letter to Trudeau urging him to prioritize the adoption [by all G7 countries] of Magnitsky-style laws at the G7 leaders’ summit… An all-party group of MPs also hopes to send a similar letter to Mr. Trudeau and [Foreign Affairs minister Chrystia] Freeland this week.”

That article adds, “Three of the G7 countries – Canada, the U.S. and Britain – already have Magnitsky-style laws in place; France, Germany, Italy and Japan do not.”

In October 2017, five years after the US Congress passed the Magnitsky Act, the House of Commons passed its own version of the legislation: Bill S-226, the Justice for Victims of Corrupt Foreign Officials Act.

The CBC has explained, “[The Magnitsky Act was] named for a lawyer [Sergei Magnitsky] who died in Russian custody [in 2009] as he was investigating corruption [by Russian officials]. These laws target the property – the assets, the holdings, the wealth – of corrupt officials ‘who have committed gross violations of internationally recognized human rights’.”

In November 2017, the Trudeau government named 52 people in Russia, Venezuela and South Sudan under S-226.

Last month, the BBC reported, “Human rights group Amnesty International has accused Donald Trump of ‘hateful’ politics and of being a threat to human rights. ‘President Trump takes actions that violate human rights at home and abroad’, the group said.” Salil Shetty, the Secretary-General of Amnesty International has stated Egyptian president Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, Philippines president Rodrigo Duterte, Chinese president Xi Jinping, Russian president Vladimir Putin, Venezuelan president Nicolas Maduro, and US President Donald Trump “are callously undermining the rights of millions”.

The Trudeau government has already named the Venezuelan president under its Magnitsky-style law. And Canada’s foreign minister stated last month, “Canada fully supports the announcement by Peru, as host of the upcoming Summit of the Americas, that Nicolas Maduro, the President of Venezuela, is not welcome to attend.”

It does not appear that the Trudeau government has taken similar actions against other leaders named by Amnesty International – Putin has not been named under Canada’s Magnitsky law, and Trudeau met with Duterte in the Philippines in November 2017, as well as Xi and Trump several times.

Columbia University Professor Hamid Dabashi has argued that Trump’s bombing of Iraq and Syria (which United Nations war crimes investigators said caused a “staggering loss of life”) “may or may not amount to war crimes – that is for legal scholars and a court of law to decide [but] they are certainly evidence of hate crimes, which if it were targeted towards one person it would be a matter of criminal investigation.” Amnesty International has further stated that Trump’s decision to ban travel to the United States from six Muslim-majority countries was “transparently hateful”.

On January 13, The Council of Canadians launched a petition saying that Trump should not be welcomed into Canada for the G7 summit given his racist characterization of Haiti and other countries, his misogynist views, his failure to unequivocally condemn white supremacist hate, his racist travel ban that targeted Muslims, his characterization of climate change as a hoax, and his characterization of Mexican immigrants as criminals. To date, 22,791 people have signed the petition. To add your name, please click here.