UK sanctions Russians and Saudis under new human rights powers


AP Photo/Alberto Pezzali, FILE

Saudi officials accused of involvement in the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi and Russian authorities implicated in lawyer Sergei Magnitsky’s death are among dozens of individuals and organisations to be hit by new UK sanctions over human rights abuses.

Myanmar and North Korea are also in the government’s sights as it seeks to punish offenders under new powers. Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab said the sanctions targeted those behind “some of the notorious human rights violations in recent years”.

Senior Saudi intelligence officials accused of playing a part in Khashoggi’s death at the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul in 2018. Russian organisations are targeted for their alleged role in the death of Sergei Magnitsky, a lawyer who died in a Moscow prison in 2009 after exposing a tax fraud scheme involving Russian officials.

Also on the list of 49 individuals and organisations is Min Aung Hlaing, commander-in-chief of the Myanmar armed forces, and Myanmar army commander Soe Win. They are accused of orchestrating systematic violence against Myanmar’s Rohingya minority.

North Korean organisations — the Ministry of State Security Bureau and the Ministry of People’s Security Correctional Bureau — were sanctioned for running prison camps in the authoritarian Communist state.

Britain has previously imposed sanctions as part of the European Union or under the auspices of the United Nations. Since leaving the EU in January, it has implemented its own version of the United States’ Magnitsky Act, which allows authorities to ban or seize assets of individuals guilty of human rights abuses.

The UK law authorises the British government to prevent sanctioned individuals from entering the country, channelling money through British banks, or profiting from the UK economy.

“You cannot set foot in this country, and we will seize your blood-drenched ill-gotten gains if you try,” Raab said.

Last week twenty Saudi officials went on trial in absentia in Turkey over the 2018 murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi.


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