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Magnitsky ally says EU foreign policy 'hijacked' by external interests

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FILE - In this Nov. 30, 2009, file photo a portrait of lawyer Sergei Magnitsky, who died in jail, is held by his mother Nataliya Magnitskaya in Moscow
FILE - In this Nov. 30, 2009, file photo a portrait of lawyer Sergei Magnitsky, who died in jail, is held by his mother Nataliya Magnitskaya in Moscow   -   Copyright  Alexander Zemlianichenko/AP2013
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European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen has pledged to introduce an EU-wide Magnitsky Act that punishes individuals responsible for human rights violations.

The legislation is named after Sergei Magnitsky, a Russian lawyer who was imprisoned and tortured to death for investigating high-level government corruption. His murder inspired a worldwide sanctions regime that targets human rights offenders by freezing their financial assets and imposing restrictions on international travel.

Anglo-American businessman Bill Browder pioneered the act. He was a friend and colleague of Sergei Magnitsky.

Browder told Good Morning Europe that part of the challenge facing the EU is due to the fact its decision-making process requires a unanimity.

"We've seen this time and time again, where the EU's foreign policy is hijacked by interests and it's very easy to corrupt the interests of small countries, like Cyprus or Malta or Hungary. Because of that, the EU has what I call an ineffective, not brave, foreign policy. If that wasn't the case, if the major countries could make decisions by a majority as opposed to unanimity, you would see a lot more tough actions coming out of the EU towards countries like Russia."

_To listen to the full interview with Bill Browder, click on the media player above. _