Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe Human Rights Rapporteur Coskun Coruz called for the prosecution of Russian officials involved in the death of lawyer Sergei Magnitsky, the termination of the posthumous trial against him, and an end to the intimidation of his family.
“As a member of the OSCE, Russia should fulfill its human rights obligations and adhere to the norms and values of the OSCE,” said Corkuz in a statement Monday. “In the harrowing death of lawyer Sergei Magnitsky, Russia's lawlessness is absolutely not fitting into OSCE’s values. What is particularly shocking is the unprecedented prosecution of a dead man,” he continued.
Coruz’s statement was a response to an appeal from Ludmila Alexeeva, chair of the Moscow Helsinki Group, for the OSCE to urge its member state to stop the trial against Magnitsky.
“The prosecution of the dead lawyer and the intimidation and harassment of his family by police is a new low and an alarming symptom of the complete degradation of the Russian justice system and the absent rule of law,” she wrote in advance of last week’s meeting of the OSCE Parliamentary Assembly in Vienna.
She said that the Russian government's insistence on continuing the trial against Magnitsky after his death in prison awaiting trial in November 2009 runs contrary to the country's OSCE commitments. “In no way such actions can be viewed as an internal affair of Russia as they run contrary to Russia's international obligations,” she wrote, citing paragraph 21 of the Document of the Moscow Meeting of the Conference on the Human Dimension.
“The duty of the OSCE is to safeguard universally recognized human rights and freedoms and the rule of law in the territory of the participating countries,” said Ms Alexeeva.
Hermitage Capital CEO William Browder, testified at the Parliamentary Assembly meeting last week, calling on all parliaments in the 56 OSCE countries to pass visa sanctions and asset freezes on Russian officials involved in the Magnitsky case.
“Selectively canceling visas and freezing assets may not be real justice in a case like this, but if we are successful in creating some real and painful consequences in a situation where, until now, these people have enjoyed absolute impunity, perhaps the next time a Russian investigator is asked by his boss to torture a false confession out of an innocent prisoner, he may think twice,” he said.
Coruz's statement comes after a Moscow court threw out two lawsuits brought by the Magnitsky family against the Russian Investigative Committee for its failure to hold any high level police officers accountable for the false arrest, torture, and murder of the 37 year old lawyer.
The courts also rejected Magnitsky's mother requests to access the results of the government's independent medical examination of her son and his tissue samples. Hermitage Capital Management, who Magnitsky worked for, says the whistleblower died after uncovering the biggest tax fraud in Russia's history.
“The Investigative Committee in charge of Magnitsky’s death investigation is the same body that concealed Mr Magnitsky’s testimonies about the US$ 230 million corruption of Interior Ministry and tax officials. The Investigative Committee also refused to investigate the illicit multi-million dollar wealth of the families of those officials,” said Hermitage Capital in an emailed news release.