Sergei Magnitsky

UK, US and Canadian Governments Urged to Coordinate on the Use of Human Rights Sanctions

REDRESS and 70 other organisations have sent a letter to the UK, US and Canadian governments urging greater coordination between them on the use of Magnitsky sanctions to promote respect for human rights.

The UK, US and Canada are the only countries with legislation enabling targeted human rights (‘Magnitsky’) sanctions, which impose travel bans and asset freezes on individuals and entities for human rights abuses. By naming and penalising individual perpetrators, sanctions can serve as a useful tool in deterrence, promoting accountability and prompting behavioural change.

The letter states: “Globalizing and harmonizing ‘Magnitsky-like’ targeted sanctions programs represents a significant step towards ending impunity for many of the world’s worst crimes. We applaud each of your governments for the steps you are taking in this direction, and urge further integration as you move forward in this important work.”

The letter commends the US’ recent designation of Chinese leaders and entities responsible for egregious human rights violations against Uyghurs and other Turkic and Muslim-majority peoples, and calls upon the UK and Canadian counterparts to do the same. The US government is encouraged to share the information which informed its designations with its counterparts, as a step towards formalising and routinising information-sharing on targeted sanctions between the countries.

Leanna Burnard, Legal Officer at REDRESS said: “Multilateralization of human rights sanctions will bolster the impact and legitimacy of such sanctions, increase the costs for each sanctioned individual and entity committing human rights abuses, and serve as a more effective deterrent. By collaborating across borders, governments can make it much harder for perpetrators to evade sanctions.”

The letter welcomes the UK’s recent introduction of its human rights sanctions regime, which empowers the government to impose targeted sanctions on individuals and associated entities who have committed serious human rights abuses, including torture and violations of the right to life. Unlike the US and Canada, the UK does not yet have corruption as a ground for sanctioning under the regime, but it is anticipated that this will be introduced in the coming months.