Sen. Ben Cardin gives keynote address on human rights

Cardin IISen. Ben Cardin provided the keynote address Monday at the Journal of International Law’s annual symposium, this year titled “International Human Rights: What Is the U.S. Role?” Speaking to a standing-room-only crowd of more than 100 University of Baltimore School of Law students and faculty, the Maryland Democrat discussed a range of topics with human rights implications, from the situation of unaccompanied minors emigrating from Central America to the need for the Global Magnitsky Human Rights Accountability Act to combat corruption and major violations of human rights.

“Promoting human rights and the rule of law is critical to our national security and to global stability,” Cardin said. “The fight against corruption and human rights violations must be central to our diplomatic efforts around the world; this is why we must pass the Global Magnitsky Human Rights Accountability Act. This legislation would put gross violators of human rights on notice that they cannot escape the consequences of their actions even when their home country fails to act.”

The Magnitsky act bill, which was introduced in January by Cardin and Sen. John McCain (R-Arizona), would deny U.S. visas to human rights violators around the world and forbid them access to U.S. financial institutions. Congress in 2012 passed the original Magnitsky Act, which froze assets and banned visas for Russians alleged to have been involved in the 2009 prison death of Russian lawyer and whistleblower Sergei Magnitsky.

Cardin’s keynote speech was followed by a panel discussion about the U.S. role in international human rights law. Catherine Moore, UB’s coordinator for international law programs at the Center for International and Comparative Law, served as moderator. The panelists were Laura Dickinson, the Oswald Symister Colclough Research Professor of Law at the George Washington University Law School, and Reena Shah, the director of Maryland Legal Aid’s Human Rights Project.

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