Politics

Who are the ‘human rights violators’ targeted by new UK sanctions?

The UK is imposing sanctions on 49 people and organisations accused of “notorious” human rights abuses, the government has announced.

A total of 25 Russian nationals will see their UK assets frozen and be banned from entering the country over their links to the death of lawyer Sergei Magnitsky, “who uncovered widespread corruption by a group of Russian tax and police officials”, the BBC reports.

The sanctions list also includes 20 Saudi nationals implicated in the 2018 murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi.

Foreign Secretary Raab, an ex-human rights lawyer, told Parliament that the move would send a “clear message” that the UK would take action against “thugs of despots and henchmen of dictators”, and prevent them from laundering their “blood-drenched ill-gotten gains” through Britain.

The government is targeting a number of high-profile figures including Saud al-Qahtani, “who US authorities believe oversaw the team that killed Khashoggi in the Saudi consulate in Istanbul”, The Guardian says. 

Sanctions are also being slapped on two high-ranking generals implicated in the systematic killing of the Rohingyas in Myanmar, and two organisations using forced labour in North Korea.

The Foreign Office says the new sanctions could be activated immediately after Brexit, on 31 January. Secondary legislation to “beef up the new regime – including a list of new asset freezes – is expected in February or March”, the Financial Times reports.

The legislation will allow the government to “to target individuals and organisations around the world unlike conventional geographic sanctions regimes, which only target a country”, says the Gov.UK website.

The long-awaited move has been welcomed by MPs. However, shadow foreign secretary Lisa Nandy has “urged the government to draw wider conclusions about its alliance with Saudi Arabia”, The Guardian reports.

The Conservative chair of the foreign affairs select committee, Tom Tugendhat, also highlighted Downing Street’s silence about any Chinese officials implicated in the repression of Uighur Muslims.

And some MPs are calling for action against Hong Kong chief executive Carrie Lam, over her support for controversial new security laws imposed by Beijing.

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