Yesterday the Canadian Senate passed the lengthily-titled Act to provide for the taking of restrictive measures in respect of foreign nationals responsible for gross violations of internationally recognized human rights and to make related amendments to the Special Economic Measures Act and the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act, more commonly known by its ‘short title’, Justice for Victims of Corrupt Foreign Officials Act (Sergei Magnitsky Law).
The Act gives the government of Canada the authority to seize, freeze, or sequestrate the property of a foreign national in the event that the said foreign national does any of the following things:
(a) is responsible for, or complicit in, extrajudicial killings, torture or other gross violations of internationally recognized human rights …
(b) … acts as an agent of or on behalf of a foreign state in a matter relating to an activity described in paragraph (a);
(c) … is responsible for, or complicit in, ordering, controlling, or otherwise directing, acts of significant corruption. …; or
(d) … has materially assisted, sponsored, or provided financial, material or technological support for, or goods or services in support of, an activity described in paragraph (c).
On the face of it, this is all very fine. If people are responsible for “extrajudicial killings, torture, or other gross violations of internationally recognized human rights,” or for “acts of significant corruption,” then why should Canadians tolerate them? Aren’t sanctions against them a perfectly reasonable response?
It’s hard to argue against that. If one does, one appears to be saying that “gross human rights violations” and “significant corruption” are perfectly fine, which of course they’re not. So what could possibly be wrong with this Act?