UK sanctions Saudis and Russians under new Magnitsky powers | News

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The United Kingdom imposed economic sanctions on dozens of people and organizations in Russia, Saudi Arabia, Myanmar and North Korea under new British powers to punish perpetrators of human rights violations. Foreign Minister Dominic Raab said on Monday that the sanctions were on those behind « some of the notorious human rights violations committed in recent years “, and aimed at putting an end to the laundering of” blood money “.

Britain’s first sanctions will target 25 Russian nationals allegedly involved in the ill-treatment and death of lawyer Sergei Magnitsky, and 20 Saudi nationals held responsible for the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi, the Foreign Office said .

“Today, this government … sends a very clear message on behalf of the British people that those who have blood on their hands – thugs and bullies, henchmen and dictators – will not be free to waltz in this country for buy goods on King’s Road, do their Christmas shopping in Knightsbridge, or frankly to siphon dirty money through British banks or other financial institutions, “said Raab.

“The designations will also include those responsible for the brutal murder of writer and journalist Jamal Khashoggi. “

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Prime Minister Boris Johnson wants to forge a new independent role for Britain in foreign and trade affairs after leaving the European Union in January, and it was the first time that London could impose asset freezes. and visa bans independently.

Among the list of Saudi names are Saud al-Qahtani, former Saudi royal advisor, and Ahmed al-Asiri, former deputy chief of intelligence. The two charges were dropped by a Saudi court after 11 suspects were tried last December for the murder of Khashoggi. Five were sentenced to death.

Khashoggi, a 59-year-old Washington Post columnist, was killed at the Saudi consulate in Istanbul on October 2, 2018. Turkish authorities said his body had been dismembered by the killers and that his body had not yet been found.

Turkish prosecutors have charged 20 Saudi nationals for the murder of Khashoggi, including several with ties to the Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman (MBS), the de facto ruler of the kingdom.

Some Western governments, as well as the CIA, have said they believe MBS ordered the murder – a charge the Saudi authorities have denied.

“Particularly outrageous”

The biggest Russian name on the UK list is Alexander Bastrykin, whose committee of inquiry reports directly to President Vladimir Putin.

Bastrykin was also blacklisted by the United States and Canada following the death of Magnitsky, a Russian lawyer arrested in 2008 after alleged Russian officials have been implicated in large-scale tax evasion. Magnitsky died in a Moscow prison in 2009 after complaining of abuse.

“It is particularly scandalous that the high representatives of the public prosecutor’s office and the commission of inquiry of the Russian Federation as well as judges were included in the punishments “, Reported the RIA news agency. RussiaAn embassy spokesman in London said.

Min Aung Hlaing, Commander-in-Chief of the Myanmar Armed Forces, and Commander of the Myanmar Army Soe Win are also on the list of 49 individuals and organizations. They are accused of having orchestrated systematic violence against the Rohingya minority in Myanmar.

North Korean organizations – the Ministry of Public Security and the Correctional Ministry of Public Security – have been punished for running prisoner camps in the authoritarian Communist state.

“Ill-gotten gains steeped in blood”

Britain has already imposed sanctions within the framework of the European Union or under the auspices of the United Nations. Since leaving the EU in January, he has implemented his own version of the US Magnitsky law, which allows authorities to prohibit or seize the assets of individuals guilty of human rights violations.

British law allows the British government to prevent sanctioned individuals from entering the country, channeling money through British banks, or profiting from the British economy.

“You can’t set foot in this country and we will seize your ill-gotten blood-soaked gains if you try,” Raab said while announcing the new sanctions.

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Some analysts have however questioned the impact of the sanctions.

Bill Browder, CEO and Hermitage Capital Management and the chief of of the Global Magnitsky Justice campaign, said that even if the Saudis will be upset by the inclusion of public officials on the sanctions list, “the beauty of Magnitsky’s law is that it sanctions individuals, not countries.”

“In this way, it is possible for the UK to continue diplomatic and trade relations while expressing dissatisfaction with those involved in human rights abuses at the same time,” Browder told Al Jazeera.

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo welcomed Britain’s decision. “This sanctions regime marks the start of a new era for British sanctions policy and cooperation between our two democracies,” he said in a statement.

“The United States will continue to seek additional allies and partners to jointly use all of the tools at our disposal to deny access to the US and international financial systems to all those who engage in serious human rights abuses. “

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