Martin Dewhirst on why Europe needs a Magnitsky Law

posted 18 Nov 2013, 07:49 by Rights in Russia   [ updated 18 Nov 2013, 08:01 ]
18 November 2013

By Martin Dewhirst

This article reviews: Why Europe needs a Magnitsky Law: Should the EU follow the US?, ed. Elena Servettaz, 2013, 300 pp. ISBN 978-2-9546298-0-3. (Available free online at

Just over four years ago, on 16 November, 2009, a Moscow lawyer, Sergei Magnitsky, was killed in a pre-trial ‘investigative isolation facility’ (in Russian: SIZO) nearly a year after he had been arrested for exposing a $230 million tax refund fraud carried out by a number of fairly senior employees of the corrupt Russian state (one could hardly call any of them ‘civil servants’). Dozens of people die in SIZOs every year as a result of the appalling conditions and brutal mistreatment, despite the fact that they are officially regarded as innocent until proven guilty at the end of their trial. The SIZOs are run by the ‘Federal Service for the Implementation of Punishments’, and still in Russia the punishment starts well before the trial. ‘Not guilty’ verdicts are rare, and in many cases conditions for inmates in the ‘correctional colonies’ to which most of them are sentenced (there are just seven prisons in Russia, only for men) are at least a little less harsh than in the SIZOs. [Read more]