Canada’s House of Commons has unanimously passed Bill S-226 – known as the Sergei Magnitsky law – which enables sanctions on foreign officials who violate international human rights.

Sergei Magnitsky was a Moscow lawyer who uncovered the largest tax fraud in Russian history. He was detained without trial, tortured and died in a Moscow prison on November 16, 2009.

Many countries already have laws in place that were inspired by Mr. Magnitsky. In the United States, the Magnitsky Act was signed into law on December 14, 2012 and resulted in the freezing of any American assets of Russian investigators and prosecutors who were involved in Mr. Magnitsky's detention. This act was later expanded in 2016 to include sanctions against human rights abusers in other countries.

Canada's Magnitsky Law would not only target Russia but any listed corrupt foreign officials and human rights abusers who are "responsible for, or complicit in, extrajudicial killings, torture or other gross violations of internationally recognized human rights…"

Listed individuals could face travel bans and sanctions preventing them from entering into any financial transaction with any Canadian. The proposed law contains a list of entities, including certain banks and trust companies, that would need to determine, on a continuing basis, whether it is in possession or control of property that it has reason to believe is the property of a listed foreign national.

Bill S-226, which originated in the Senate in 2016 and is sponsored by Conservative Senator Raynell Andreychuk, will become law if it is passed by the Senate and receives royal assent.