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Irwin Cotler, MP

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HOUSE OF COMMONS UNANIMOUSLY APPROVES MOTION CALLING FOR MAGNITSKY SANCTIONS ON HUMAN RIGHTS VIOLATORS

Posted on March 25, 2015 | No Comments

Members of all parties specifically encourage sanctions against Russian officials responsible for detention, torture, death of whistleblower Sergei Magnitsky

Ottawa – March 25, 2015 – The House of Commons today unanimously adopted a motion supporting sanctions against foreign nationals responsible for human rights violations. The motion – which was introduced by the Hon. Irwin Cotler, Liberal Critic for Rights and Freedoms and International Justice – specifically encourages sanctions against those responsible for the detention, torture, and 2009 death in prison of Russian lawyer Sergei Magnitsky, who uncovered the largest tax fraud in Russian history.

Moreover, it encourages the government to explore appropriate sanctions against any foreign nationals responsible for violations of internationally recognized human rights in a foreign country, when authorities in that country are unable or unwilling to conduct a thorough, independent and objective investigation of the violations.

After the motion was passed, Parliamentarians joined with Bill Browder, CEO of Hermitage Capital Management and the driving force behind the global campaign for justice for Sergei Magnitsky, to discuss the importance of using sanctions to combat human rights violations. Mr. Magnitsky was working as Mr. Browder’s attorney at the time of his arrest.

Parliamentarians in attendance included Mr. Cotler, Conservative Senator Raynell Andreychuk, Conservative MP and Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Foreign Affairs David Anderson, Liberal Foreign Affairs Critic Marc Garneau, NDP MP Murray Rankin, Conservative Senator Linda Frum, and Green Party leader Elizabeth May.

“The unanimous support of this motion sends a clear signal to human rights violators in Russia and around the world that they will be held to account for their crimes,” said Cotler, chair of the Justice for Sergei Magnitsky Inter-Parliamentary Group, which is comprised of 21 parliamentarians from 13 countries. “By imposing sanctions, we can impose meaningful penalties on human rights violators and deter future violations.”

“The Sergei Magnitsky case is today recognized as a symbol of what can happen when the principles of fundamental justice and rule of law are manipulated for personal gain,” said Senator Andreychuk, who has introduced a similar motion in the Senate. “I hope that the Senate will soon join with the House of Commons and parliaments around the world to express our commitment to accountability for foreign nationals who commit the most serious violations of human rights.”

“The tragedy of Sergei Magnitsky’s death in Russian custody and appalling posthumous show trial are stark symbols of the precipitous decline of Russian democracy,” added Ms. May. “Bill Browder’s inexhaustible efforts to commemorate the life of his lawyer and friend are laudable and instructive. I urge the Government to give full support to Mr. Cotler’s call for sanctions that will hold the perpetrators of Sergei Magnitsky’s torture accountable. Today’s motion is an important step in the international effort to achieve justice for Magnitsky and help to guarantee the human rights of all Russian citizens.”

Due to Browder’s efforts to bring Magnitsky’s tormentors to justice, the United States passed the Magnitsky Act in 2012, thereby imposing financial and travel restrictions on Russian officials suspected of being involved in the Magnitsky case. Legislation that would broaden the act to cover all human rights violators is currently before Congress.

Resolutions calling for Magnitsky sanctions have also been passed by the European Parliament, the British House of Commons, the Dutch Parliament, the OSCE, and others.

Motion on Sanctions against Human Rights Violators in Magnitsky Case

Posted on March 25, 2015 | No Comments

Today, Mr. Cotler introduced the following motion, which received the unanimous consent of the House:

That, in the opinion of the House,

  1. Sergei Magnitsky, a Moscow lawyer who uncovered the largest tax fraud in Russian history, was detained without trial, tortured and consequently died in a Moscow prison on November 16, 2009;
  2. No thorough, independent and objective investigation has been conducted by Russian authorities into the detention, torture and death of Sergei Magnitsky, nor have the individuals responsible been brought to justice;
  3. The unprecedented posthumous trial and conviction of Sergei Magnitsky in Russia for the very fraud he uncovered constitute a violation of the principles of fundamental justice and the rule of law;

Therefore the House calls upon the government to:

  1. Condemn any foreign nationals who were responsible for the detention, torture or death of Sergei Magnitsky, or who have been involved in covering up the crimes he exposed;
  2. Explore and encourage sanctions against any foreign nationals  who were responsible for the detention, torture or death of Sergei Magnitsky, or who have been involved in covering up the crimes he exposed;
  3. Explore sanctions as appropriate against any foreign nationals responsible for violations of internationally recognized human rights in a foreign country, when authorities in that country are unable or unwilling to conduct a thorough, independent and objective investigation of the violations.

Women’s Rights are Human Rights, So Let’s Make a Change

Posted on March 9, 2015 | No Comments

(Originally published on The Huffington Post)

Yesterday, March 8, was International Women’s Day. Since being designated by the United Nations in 1975, the day has provided an opportunity not only to celebrate achievements, but to come up with new strategies to address the most difficult challenges concerning women’s rights.

Each March 8 has a theme. Following “Empower Rural Women – End Hunger and Poverty” in 2012, “A Promise Is A Promise: Time for Action to End Violence Against Women” in 2013 and “Equality for Women is Progress for All” in 2014, this year’s theme is “Empowering Women, Empowering Humanity: Picture it!”

Picture it… Picture it, because despite all the efforts that have been made in Canada and around the world, despite all the progress, there is still (too) much that remains to be done.

Twenty years after the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action, two documents aimed at empowering women adopted by 189 countries, and over 10 years since the adoption of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe’s (OSCE) Action Plan for the Promotion of Gender Equality, certain countries remain regrettably reluctant to put new initiatives in place, as my colleague, the Honourable Hedy Fry, Member for Vancouver Centre, recently stated in an address to the OSCE Parliamentary Assembly.

As for the Canadian situation, there remains cause for concern here too. While we have consistently hovered around eighth place on the United Nations Development Programme’s Gender Inequality Index since it was created in 2010, other indicators paint a less rosy picture. The World Economic Forum Global Gender Gap Report has put Canada at around 20th place for several years now.

Here in Canada, women are underrepresented in Parliament: in 2015, they make up 25 per cent of MPs and 35 per cent of senators.

Here in Canada, Aboriginal women are three to four times more likely than other Canadian women to be victims of violence, and they are overrepresented in the number of missing and murdered women across the country.

Here in Canada, about 50 per cent of women have experienced physical or sexual violence at least once after the age of 16.

Here in Canada, as in all other Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) member countries, women continue to earn significantly less than men.

The facts speak for themselves. We now need to move beyond condemnation and take action, including:

  • Demonstrating that Status of Women Canada is not a second-tier ministry by substantially increasing its budget;
  • Promoting gender-based analysis in government policy and public policy formation, particularly as relates to the development of budgets;
  • Appointing more women to public office and working to remove barriers keeping women from entering politics;
  • Making pay equity a reality by creating a gender equality commissioner, and re-establishing the Court Challenges Program so that all women will have the means to ensure that their Charter rights are respected;
  • Doing more and doing better for Aboriginal women. Holding a national roundtable on the issue is a step in the right direction, but a national commission of inquiry is necessary;
  • Establishing a national action plan to combat violence against women, taking into account the specific needs of various groups – seniors, single mothers, Aboriginal women, immigrants, homeless women — and developing concrete ways of evaluating progress; and
  • As I have suggested in a motion in the House of Commons, implementing strategies to combat violence against women, the trafficking of women and sexual violence in armed conflict.

We have extensively documented the status of women’s rights, and we will continue to do so. We have identified shortcomings, and we have discussed best practices. The time for talk is over; it is now time to act.

Cotler Highlights Global Day of Action for Iranian Baha’i Community

Posted on February 27, 2015 | No Comments

Education Is Not a Crime campaign underscores exclusion of Baha’i from Iranian universities Ottawa – February 27, 2015 – On the eve of today’s first global […]

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Human Rights Subcommittee Unanimously Calls for Release of Raif Badawi

Posted on February 26, 2015 | No Comments

Motion introduced by Irwin Cotler calls for imprisoned Saudi blogger to be reunited with family in Canada Ottawa – February 26, 2015 – The House of […]

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Statement on the Baha’i Community in Iran

Posted on February 26, 2015 | No Comments

Mr. Speaker, tomorrow is the global day of action for the Education is Not a Crime campaign to dramatize the painful reality that education is a […]

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Motion on Anti-Semitism

Posted on February 25, 2015 | No Comments

Today, Mr. Cotler introduced the following motion, which received the unanimous consent of the House: That, in the opinion of the House: a) there has been, […]

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Take-note Debate on the Rise in Anti-Semitism

Posted on February 24, 2015 | No Comments

Hon. Irwin Cotler (Mount Royal, Lib.): Mr. Chair, last month I had the privilege of participating in the first ever United Nations General Assembly forum in […]

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Debate on Bill C-51 (Anti-Terrorism Act 2015)

Posted on February 23, 2015 | No Comments

The House resumed consideration of the motion that Bill C-51, An Act to enact the Security of Canada Information Sharing Act and the Secure Air Travel […]

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Statement on United Nations Anti-Semitism Forum

Posted on February 20, 2015 | No Comments

Mr. Speaker, recently I addressed the first-ever United Nations General Assembly meeting on anti-Semitism, which took place, symbolically and significantly, on International Holocaust Remembrance Day. It […]

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