The UK Government and allies have sanctioned individuals linked to people trafficking and repressive regimes around the world ahead of the 75th anniversary of a milestone document in the history of human rights.
Some 46 measures have been announced by Britain, the US and Canada targeting accessories to authoritarian governments, including 17 members of the Belarusian judiciary.
The first set of sanctions are against nine individuals and five entities for their involvement in trafficking people in Cambodia, Laos and Myanmar, forcing them to work for online ‘scam farms’ which enable large-scale fraud.
The second is aimed at a number of individuals linked to the governments and authorities of Belarus, Haiti, Iran, and Syria, for their involvement in the repression of citizens, the Foreign Office said.
Some eight people have been targeted for atrocities against the Syrian people by Assad’s regime, two in Haiti for their involvement in the 2018 La Saline attacks and five from the Iranian authorities for their involvement in enforcing mandatory hijab law, the department said.
It comes days ahead of the 75th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, a document ratified by the UN in the wake of the horrors of the Second World War.
The declaration aimed to protect the rights and freedoms of all individuals and is widely seen as having paved the way for the development of international human rights law.
It comes amid political turmoil over the UK’s approach to some aspects of international human rights law as Rishi Sunak seeks to save his plan to send some asylum seekers to Rwanda with emergency legislation.
A key point of the new Bill is to declare that courts must treat Rwanda as a “safe country”, and not consider claims that it will not act in accordance with the Refugee Convention or other international obligations.
Tory hardliners may seek to beef up the legislation by calling for it to effectively override international law, while centrist Conservatives have warned Britain must meet its international commitments.
The sanctions announced on Friday include asset freezes and travel bans.
Foreign Secretary Lord David Cameron said: “We will not tolerate criminals and repressive regimes trampling on the fundamental rights and freedoms of ordinary people around the world.
“I am clear that 75 years after the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the UK and our allies will continue to relentlessly pursue those who would deny people their freedom.”
Home Secretary James Cleverly said: “The UK is actively rooting out all facilitators of large-scale fraud, both nationally and internationally, to protect public welfare.
“Today’s announcement sends a clear warning: anyone attempting to gain from human rights abuses will be brought to justice.”