Despite Magnitsky law, Estonia willl assess each visa refusal separately

Woman with a portrait of Sergei Magnitsky at a protest march in Moscow.
Woman with a portrait of Sergei Magnitsky at a protest march in Moscow. Source: AFP/Scanpix

Despite the legislative amendments adopted by the Riigikogu on Thursday, Estonia will not draw up a Magnitsky list of persons prohibited from entering the country, but rather evaluate each case individually, spokespeople for the Estonian Ministry of the Interior said.

"These amendments do not affect the procedure of handling of entry bans," Merje Klopets, spokesperson for the Ministry of the Interior, told BNS on Friday. "In accordance with the Obligation to Leave and Prohibition on Entry Act, a prohibition on entry is imposed upon a specific person on specific grounds, not on a list of persons at once."

On Thursday, the Riigikogu approved with 90 votes the Act on Amendments to the Obligation to Leave and Prohibition on Entry Act, which amends and specifies the legal bases for imposing a prohibition on the entry of aliens so that they conformed with the international security situation, took into account the risk assessments of security authorities as well as created a real and direct connection between the practice of prohibitions on entry and risk assessments.

One of the amendments allows for the application of an entry ban on a foreigner if there is information or good reason to believe that the individual has participated in or contributed to the violation of human right in a foreign country which has resulted in the death or serious damage to the health of a person, unfounded conviction of a person for a criminal offense on political motives or other serious consequences.

This legal basis for the implementation of an entry ban has been dubbed the Magnitsky provision after the case of Russian lawyer Sergei Magnitsky, who exposed large-scale tax fraud committed by officials of the Russian Ministry of the Interior and died later in unclear circumstances in Moscow's Butyrka pretrial prison in 2009, at age 37.

The US has imposed sanctions on the Russian officials complicit int the Magnitsky case and the European Parliament has called upon EU member states to follow suit.

The Estonian ministry spokesperson emphasized, however, that the listing of one's name on the so-called Magnitsky list does not mean an automatic ban on entry into Estonia.

"Simply being on the Magnitsky list will not automatically lead to the imposition of a prohibition on entry [into Estonia]," Klopets clarified. "The decision will be made based on the circumstances related to each specific person, i.e. the decision will be made for each concrete person separately."

The Riigikogu's decision was hailed on Thursday as the first breakthrough in Europe by Bill Browder, a former employer of Magnitsky who became a rights activist following Magnitsky's death and has lobbied EU and US authorities to go after Magnitsky's tormentors.

To have the first European Magnitsky law passed in a country which borders Russia is a fitting tribute to Sergei Magnitsky, whose murder in Russia inspired this legislation," Browder said in a statement.

Editor: Editor: Aili Vahtla

Source: BNS

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