Uyghur woman interned at a Chinese 'brainwashing' camp.

REDRESS Seeks UK Sanctions on Chinese Officials for Uyghur Abuses

REDRESS has made a submission to the UK Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office seeking the imposition of sanctions on senior Chinese officials in response to human rights violations in Xinjiang, China. 

The Global Human Rights Sanctions Regulations 2020 give the UK Foreign Secretary the power to impose sanctions on individuals and entities who are responsible for human rights violations, or who facilitate, incite, promote, or support such violations. The regulations also allow the UK to designate for sanction individuals and entities that are linked in other ways to involved persons, such as being a member of, controlled by or associated with such persons. 

The submission cites the numerous credible reports that document human rights violations against Uyghur and other minority populations in the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region of China since late 2016. It calls for the imposition of sanctions on Chen Quanguo, the Chinese Communist Party Secretary in Xinjiang. Chen was sanctioned in July 2020 by the US Department of the Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) for “being a foreign person who is or has been a leader or official of an entity … that has engaged in, or whose members have engaged in serious human rights abuse relating to the leader’s or official’s tenure”. 

Zhu Hailun, former Deputy Communist Party Secretary in Xinjiang, is also recommended for designation in the submission. The US has designated Zhu “for being a foreign person who is responsible for or complicit in, or has directly or indirectly engaged in, serious human rights abuse.” The submission also seeks the imposition of sanctions on other individuals and entities that fall within the criteria for designation under the UK legislation, through their links to Chen and Zhu.  

Tim Loughton MP and 20 other UK members of the Inter-Parliamentary Alliance on China have written to the UK Foreign Secretary in support of the submission. 

To date, the UK Foreign Secretary has used the human rights sanctions regime to designate individuals and entities linked to human rights abuses in Russia, Myanmar, North Korea and Belarusas well as Saudi individuals involved in the murder of Jamal Khashoggi. Designating the individuals allows the UK Government to impose travel bans and asset freezes on those sanctioned.

Charlie Loudon, International Legal Adviser at REDRESS, commented: 

The UK has used its new human rights sanctions powers to respond to some of the most pressing human rights crises of today. The situation in Xinjiang has so far been a conspicuous omission, and we are hopeful the Foreign Secretary will address that.” 

Sanctions should be one part of a broader package of measures implement by the UK government to seek an end to violations in Xinjiangto provide reparations for victims, and to pursue accountability. Other measures should include: 

  • Supporting the establishment of an impartial and independent United Nations mechanism to monitor, analyse and report on the human rights situation in China. 
  • Using and enforcing domestic avenues of accountability, including corporate accountability relating to supply chains. 
  • Using any other international mechanisms that are available. 

For more information or to request an interview, please contact: Eva Sanchis, REDRESS’ Head of Communication, at [email protected] or +44 (0) 7857110076. 

Photo credit: Courtesy of the BBC, Uyghur woman interned a secret ‘indoctrination’ camp in western Xinjiang region.