Moscow’s top prosecutor heads the list of 25 Russians named yesterday as individuals subject to personal sanctions in the UK's version of 'Magnitsky Act' measures against human rights abusers. Saudi citizens held responsible for the killing of journalist Jamal Kashoggi are also among those liable to having assets seized under the Global Human Rights Sanctions Regulations 2020. 

Introducing the measure, foreign secretary Dominic Raab described sanctions as 'a forensic tool', allowing the UK to target perpetrators of abuses without punishing the wider people of a country. The abuses covered include breaches of:

  • The right to life, threatened by assassinations and extra-judicial killing;
  • The right not to be subjected to torture or cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment;
  • The right to be free from slavery, servitude or forced or compulsory labour

The regulations, made under the Sanctions and Anti-Money Laundering Act 2018, permit a minister to designate a person if the minister has reasonable grounds to suspect that the person is an 'involved person' in relation to certain human rights violations or abuses. A policy paper states that the government 'is likely to give particular attention to cases where the relevant jurisdiction’s law enforcement authorities have been unable or unwilling to hold those responsible for human rights violations or abuses to account'.  All designations will be reviewed at least once every three years.

Introduction of the measures follows a campaign on behalf of the family of Sergei Magnitsky, the Russian lawyer beaten to death in 2009 in a Moscow detention centre after uncovering embezzlement by high-placed officials. Alexander Bastrykin, a close ally of President Putin and head of Russia's investigative committee, is among 25 Russians subject to UK travel bans and asset freezes. 

Campaigner Bill Browder said: 'In the past, whenever a dictator perpetrated an atrocity, the most the British government did was issue statements of condemnation, which the perpetrators laughed at. The Magnitsky Act creates real world consequences that they’re absolutely terrified of. This is a lasting and fitting legacy for Sergei’s ultimate sacrifice. His name will forever be on legislation which saves lives.'