LONDON – First own human rights sanctions target Russia and Saudis

The UK on Monday (6 July) unveiled sanctions on 49 people and organisations behind the most “notorious” human rights abuses of recent years, for the first time independently as previously it has followed EU and UN sanctions regimes.

The new ‘Magnitsky’-style sanctions regime, known as the Global Human Rights Sanctions Regulations, 25 Russian implicated in the death of Russian lawyer Sergei Magnitsky in 2009 will have their UK assets frozen and are banned from entering the country, while 20 Saudi nationals involved in the death of journalist Jamal Khashoggi have also been targeted, according to the Foreign Office.

UK Foreign Minister Dominic Raab told lawmakers that the new regime, which is the UK’s first independent legal framework that focuses solely on human rights abuses, was aimed at the “thugs of despots and henchmen of dictators” as well as stopping those trying to launder their “blood-drenched ill-gotten gains”.

While until present the UK has almost always had to act in accordance with the EU, the UK government wants the country to be seen as a leading defender of international rules and human rights.

One key test will be whether it can get support from other countries. The US and Canada have similar schemes, the EU is working on its own version.

The Russian embassy in London, unsurprisingly, reacted angrily, threatening to “respond to today’s unfriendly decision by the UK on the basis of reciprocity.”

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on Monday hailed post-Brexit Britain for imposing human rights sanctions on its own for the first time.

“This sanctions regime marks the beginning of a new era for UK sanctions policy and cooperation between our two democracies,” Pompeo said in a statement.

(Benjamin Fox |


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