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“Magnitsky-style” human rights sanctions now in the UK Overseas Territories

16 Oct 2020

Owing to the shift in underlying UK policy post Brexit, the UK Overseas Territories (UKOT) including Anguilla, Bermuda, the BVI and the Cayman Islands (among others) are now subject to Magnitsky-style sanctions mirroring the UK model following the passing of the Global Human Rights Sanctions (Overseas Territories) Order 2020 (theGHRS Order).

The GHRS Order came into force on 22 July 2020 and extends, with modifications, the UK’s Global Human Rights Sanctions Regulations 2020 (S.I. 2020/680) (the GHRS Regulations).

The GHRS Regulations were made under Part I of the UK’s Sanctions and Anti-Money Laundering Act 2018 to establish a sanctions regime for the purpose of deterring and providing accountability for, activities which, if carried out by or on behalf of a State, would amount to serious violations of certain human rights by that State. The activities could be carried out by a State or non-State actor.

The GHRS Order provides for the following regulations:

  • A person designated by the Secretary of State (SoS – the UK Foreign Secretary) for being, or having been, involved in such activities, is a designated person for the purposes of the GHRS Order. The Governor of relevant UKOT to publish an up-to-date list of designated persons.
  • Designated persons may be excluded from the territory and may be made subject to financial sanctions, including having their funds or economic resources frozen.
  • Certain exceptions can apply to the asset freeze provision, for example, to allow for frozen account(s) to be credited with interest or other earnings and to allow acts done for the purpose of national security or the prevention of serious crime.
  • The Governor of a UKOT may, with the consent of the SoS, issue a licence in respect of activities that would otherwise be prohibited. Schedule 2 sets out the purposes under which the Governor of a UKOT will issue such licences.
  • The regime prescribes powers for the provision and sharing of information to enable the effective implementation and enforcement of the sanctions regime.
  • It is a criminal offence to contravene, or circumvent, any of the prohibitions in the GHRS Order and prescribes the penalties that apply to such offences.

The first lot of Designated Persons under the GHRS regime (extended to the UKOTs) included:

  • Saudi nationals linked to the brutal killing of Jamal Khashoggi
  • Russian nationals linked to the mistreatment of Sergei Magnitsky
  • Leaders of the Burmese armed forces responsible for military operations against the Rohingya
  • Officials of DPR Korea responsible for prison camp human rights violations

Perhaps the most famous member of the list under the GHRS is President Lukashenko of Belarus, who was recently added in late September 2020 for the crackdown on political protestors following that country’s recent elections.

A copy of the GHRS Order is here.

UK Guidance on the GHRS regime is here.

The Cayman Islands publication on the GHRS Order is here.

Our Belarus sanctions blog post is here.