December 12, 2023

US, UK and Canada impose coordinated sanctions in recognition of International Human Rights Day

On December 8, 2023, the US, UK and Canada took coordinated action to impose sanctions against those who engage in human rights abuse around the world, to commemorate International Human Rights Day and the 75th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (“UDHR”) that occurred on December 10, 2023.  The coordinated sanctions reaffirm the commitment by the US, UK and Canada to promoting accountability for human rights abuses around the world and protecting ordinary people from those who deny their fundamental rights and freedoms.

The US Department of the Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control sanctioned a total of 20 individuals linked to human rights abuse in 9 countries, some of which involve authoritarian governments whose officials have engaged in the repression of civil society, protesters, and journalists; violence against civilians, including sexual and gender-based violence; and the arbitrary detention and kidnapping of civilians.  The US Department of State also concurrently designated individuals in Russia, Indonesia, and the People’s Republic of China to impose visa restrictions pursuant to Section 7031(c) of the Annual Appropriations Act.  Most of the OFAC designations were issued pursuant to Executive Order 13818, which builds upon and implements the Global Magnitsky Human Rights Accountability Act and targets perpetrators of serious human rights abuse around the world, while the remaining designations were issued pursuant to EO 13667, EO 13413, EO 13553 and EO 13664.  As a result of the OFAC designations, all property and interests in property of the designees within the United States or within the possession or control of a US person are blocked, and US persons are generally prohibited from engaging in transactions involving the designated persons.  Entities owned 50 percent or more by one or more designated persons are also blocked.

In honor of the 75th anniversary of the UDHR, the UK government announced that it imposed 46 designations in two categories.  The first category of sanctions targeted 9 individuals and 5 entities in connection with the alleged trafficking of people in Cambodia, Laos and Myanmar who were promised well-paying jobs but were forced to work for online “scam farms,” which subjected them to torture and cruel or degrading treatment.  The second category of UK sanctions targeted 32 individuals linked to governments and judicial authorities in Belarus, Haiti, Iran, and Syria for engaging in the alleged repression of citizens who were exercising their fundamental freedoms.  All designees in the UK will be subject to asset freezes and travel bans.

Canadian authorities also announced the imposition of sanctions against 7 individuals who are responsible for or complicit in human rights violations in Russia, Iran and Myanmar, including violations related to the LGBTQI+ purge in Chechnya and the torture and killing of Iranian-Canadian photo-journalist Zahra Kazemi in Iran.

US Department of Treasury Press Release | US Department of State Press Statement | UK Government Press Release | Government of Canada News Statement | Government of Canada Backgrounder