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Jersey applies asset freeze on ‘human rights abusers’

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JERSEY has joined the UK in applying new ‘Magnitsky-list’ asset freeze sanctions on ‘human rights abusers’ including those linked to the deaths of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi and Russian auditor Sergei Magnitsky.

External Relations Minister Ian Gorst (28786490)

This week UK Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab designated 49 individuals and organisations for penalties due to their role in ‘some of the most notorious human rights violations and abuses in recent years’.

The Global Human Rights Sanctions Regulations 2020 enable the UK to freeze money and assets held within its jurisdiction of designated individuals and entities.

And External Relations Minister Ian Gorst has passed an order, under the Sanctions and Asset-Freezing (Jersey) Law 2019, so that the new list and sanctions are effective immediately in Jersey too.

The initial list includes 25 individuals linked to the death of tax adviser Sergei Magnitsky in a Russian prison in 2008, which campaigners have cited as a gross violation of human rights. It is said that Mr Magnitsky was tortured and beaten to death, while incarcerated, after exposing corruption in the Russian police, tax authorities, government and banks.

Individuals and organisations linked to human rights abuses in Saudi Arabia, Myanmar and North Korea are also included on the UK and Jersey’s ‘Magnitsky list’.

Further designations and sanctions are expected in the coming months, with the move intended to target individuals and organisations, rather than nations.

A similar regime of co-operation has existed between Jersey and the UK relating to terrorist-asset-freezing designations for a number of years.

Senator Gorst said: ‘Jersey is a responsible and robustly regulated international finance centre that has a positive track record of helping to enforce the will of the international community. It is, therefore, important that Jersey plays its part in the global fight against the abuse of human rights.

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‘Jersey already implements all UN and EU sanctions against countries, regimes or individuals believed to be violating international law, including human rights abuses. We actively monitor international sanctions developments and take appropriate measures to ensure Jersey’s response remains proportionate and in line with agreed global best practice.’

The introduction of the UK and Jersey Magnitsky list followed years of campaigning by British-American businessman Bill Browder, a prominent critic of Russian president Vladimir Putin who used to have substantial business interests in Moscow through his company Hermitage Capital.

Mr Browder has campaigned for countries to apply sanctions lists for individuals linked to the death of his friend Mr Magnitsky, as well as other people and organisations linked to human rights abuses.

In 2012, while under the administration of President Barack Obama, the USA passed the ‘Magnitsky Act’ in response to Mr Browder’s lobbying, which introduced powers to sanction human rights abusers and bar them from entering the country.

Speaking exclusively to the JEP in 2018, Mr Browder called on the Island to play its part in the global fight against human rights abusers by adopting its own version of the act.

At the time he said that if Jersey did so it would ‘absolutely send a message to any Russian bad guys’ who might own companies and assets in or connected to Jersey.

Ian Heath

By Ian Heath
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