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The UK imposes first human rights sanctions


The UK has published its first autonomous sanctions regime, imposing asset freezes and travel bans on 47 people and 2 entities whom the Government has reasonable grounds to suspect have been involved in severe violations of human rights.

The regulations (which come into force today) are the UK Global Human Rights Sanctions Regulations 2020, made under the Sanctions and Money Laundering Act 2018 (“the Sanctions Act”).

those designated are listed here

The Regulations target
  • those suspected of being “involved in” serious violations (by State or non-State actors) of the right to life, the right not to be subjected to torture or cruel or inhuman or degrading treatment, and the right to be free from slavery, plus
  • those who are owned or controlled by or associated with such a person or who acts on his/ her behalf.

The definition of “involved” includes facilitating, inciting, promoting or supporting an activity, providing financial services knowing or suspecting they might contribute to the activity, profiting or benefiting from the activity, failing to investigate responsibility for the activity in some circumstances, and so on.

The Foreign Secretary’s statement in Parliament made clear that the Government was working on adding violations of other human rights and corruption as grounds for designation.

Related documents are:
  1. Guidance,
  2. a Financial Sanctions Notice,
  3. explanatory memorandum,
  4. reports under section 2(4) (purpose)
  5. section 18 (criminal offences) of the Act,
  6. an Information Note for NGOs,
  7. an Impact Assessment,
  8. a policy paper,
  9. a press release.


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