Wants sanctions for human rights violations

Sergei Magnitsky human rights violationsSergei Magnitsky (1972-2009). Photo: rferl.org / TASS

Wants sanctions for human rights violations

The Helsinki Committee implore Norwegian Government negotiators to implement a system of sanctions against persons who commit serious human rights violations.

The Conservatives (Høyre), the Progress Party (FrP) and the Liberals (Venstre) are now negotiating with each other and the Christian Democrats (Kristelig Folkeparti) with the aim of putting together a majority Government.

The Norwegian Helsinki Committee believes there is a need for more instruments to protect human rights defenders and notifiers. The committee envisages a system of personalised sanctions.

«The sanctions will be aimed at individuals who commit or order gross human rights violations, such as torture, disappearances, extrajudicial executions, rape, slavery and human trafficking,» a memorandum from the Helsinki Committee states.

Inspired by the EU

Denial of entry fees to Norway or freezing of assets such as bank accounts or properties are examples of such sanctions.

The sanctions will be directed at persons who abuse their official position or who are formal and/or factual leaders of private organisations.

«The sanctions will only affect persons who have not been held accountable for their violations. It is a global scheme that is not aimed at any state or civilian population, in particular,» it further reads.

The Helsinki Committee points to that on December 10th of last year, the EU adopted a proposal to establish an EU scheme for human rights sanctions and proposes a Norwegian scheme in cooperation with other countries.

The US has a similar act in place. The US legislation is named after Sergei Magnitsky, who was arrested after exposing a scheme in which officials allegedly defrauded the Russian state of $230 million.

He died in a Moscow jail in 2009.

Historical measure

The parties that are present at Gran have the opportunity of a lifetime to stand up for human rights, the Secretary-General of the Helsinki Committee, Bjørn Engesland, believes.

“Instead of being discouraged by international developments, Norway should seize the opportunities this gives us,” he tells NTB.

“More tools are needed in the struggle to protect human rights. If, for example, the budding Norwegian Government succeeds in introducing a system of sanctions against individuals, it will be a historic move to strengthen human rights internationally,” Engesland continues.

In addition to the wish for human rights sanctions, he hopes that the negotiators can agree on increased support for human rights defenders.  Engesland further hopes that the EEA funding for European civil society can be more strongly used to promote human rights and freedom of expression in the EU.


© NTB Scanpix / #Norway Today
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