The Magnitsky Rule of Law Accountability Act: An Extraterritorial Instrument with a Good Cause?

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Friday, March 1, 2013
Konstantinos D. Magliveras


                The Russia and Moldova Jackson-Vanik Repeal and Sergei Magnitsky Rule of Law Accountability Act of 2012 (H.R. 6156), which was signed into law by President Obama on 14 December 2012[2] (hereinafter, ‘Magnitsky Act’)[3] is another example of domestic legislation with an extraterritorial dimension. Thus, it deals with matters concerning primarily a third state, namely the Russian Federation, and its provisions concern principally citizens of that third state. According to the Act, “The protection of human rights, particularly in the case of a country [Russian Federation] that has incurred obligations to protect human rights under an international agreement to which it is a party, is not left exclusively to the internal affairs of that country”[4] but has much wider repercussions. In particular, the Act deals with the human rights situation in Russia, including good governance and ant-corruption measures. As stated in the Act, the latter achieve “sustainable economic growth …benefit[ing] both the people of the Russian Federation and the international community [while] systemic corruption erodes trust and confidence in democratic institutions [and] the rule of law”.[5]