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UK: Raab unveils sanctions regime against ‘human rights abuses’

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  • The UK will slap sanctions on dozens of alleged international human rights abusers including senior Saudi Arabian officials and figures with close links to the Kremlin, the government has announced.
  • Punishments on 49 individuals from Russia, Myanmar, Saudi Arabia, and North Korea include asset freezes and travel bans.
  • Those named on the UK list include 20 Saudi nationals who the Foreign Office say were linked to the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi in 2018, including Saud al-Qahtani, who was a close adviser to Mohammad Bin Salman.
  • Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab said the new plan would target “those with blood on their hands.”
  • Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.

Boris Johnson’s UK government plans to place sanctions on dozens of international human rights abusers, including senior Saudi Arabian officials and figures with close links to the Kremlin.

Dominic Raab, the UK foreign secretary, on Monday said the government would immediately impose a series of sanctions on a total of 49 individuals from Russia, Myanmar, North Korea, and Saudi Arabia, which include asset freezes and travel bans.

The move is particularly striking because it risks damaging relations Saudi Arabia, with which it has enjoyed a strong diplomatic and trading relationship.

The UK’s move on sanctions closely mirrors that of the US Magnitsky Act, a 2012 Bill designed to punish Russian nationals linked to the death of Sergei Magnitsky, the Russian whistleblower who made allegations of corruption against Kremlin officials before he died in police custody in 2009.

Those named on the UK list include 20 Saudi nationals who the UK Foreign Office says were linked to the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi in 2018, including Saud al-Qahtani, who was a close adviser to Mohammad Bin Salman.

25 Russian nationals linked to the death of Sergei Magnitsky were also named, as well as two officials in Myanmar linked with the systematic killing of Rohingya Muslims, and organisations connected to forced labour camps in North Korea.

Raab, a former human rights lawyer, told UK Members of Parliament: “Those with blood on their hands, the thugs of despots, or the henchmen of dictators, won’t be free to waltz into this country to buy up property on the Kings Road, or do their Christmas shopping in Knightsbridge, or frankly to siphon dirty money through British banks or financial institutions.”

Dominic Raab



REUTERS/Hannah McKay


The UK was previously signed up to the European Union’s sanctions regime as a member of the bloc. Raab said the new sanctions were part of Downing Street’s attempt to form a “new vision for a truly Global Britain.”

The new sanctions regime will initially focus on what Raab called “the worst crimes” of murder, torture, and enslavement, although he said Downing Street was considering opening it up to crimes of corruption.

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