WASHINGTON (Sputnik) — The Global Magnitsky Act, to sanction individuals responsible for gross violations of human rights worldwide, was approved as part of the 2017 US defense budget and will likely pass into law this year, US Senator and bill sponsor Ben Cardin told Sputnik.
"It is the second time the Senate has passed it," Cardin said on Wednesday of the legislation. "I am optimistic we will get to the finish line this year," he said.
The Global Magnitsky Act authorizes the US president to sanction foreign individuals responsible for extrajudicial killings, torture, or other human rights violations that target government whistleblowers or other individuals pursuing internationally recognized freedoms of expression.
The bill passed on Tuesday as an amendment to an over 1,000 page US defense bill.
Cardin said he is getting "mixed signals" from the House of Representatives on their willingness to pass the bill. Supporters of the bill and the Obama administration have also "ironed out our issues" on the legislation, Cardin said, indicating the likelihood that the bill will be signed into law.
Earlier this week, Russian filmmaker Sergei Nekrasov premiered a documentary film, "Magnitsky Act — Behind the Scenes," in Washington, DC, exposing what he called the "myth" of Magnitsky’s death as a human rights case.
Cardin said he supports the Nekrasov’s rigtht to screen the film, but said the film’s allegations are part of a Russian effort "to affect public opinion by having their own set of invented facts."
Nekrasov researched the Magnitsky affair for over two years, uncovering the involvement of William Browder, a UK millionaire wanted in Russia for tax evasion, in promoting the narrative that Magnitsky was killed by Russian officials for exposing corruption. Magnitsky was a colleague of Browder at his firm, Hermitage Capital Management.
Following the passage of the 2012 Magnitsky Act, Russia responded by issuing its own blacklist, which includes US officials linked to human rights violations, some of whom were involved in the construction and maintenance of the detention center at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.