The UK, the US and Canada announced coordinated sanctions on Friday against individuals and entities linked to human rights abuse, approaching the 75th anniversary of the ratification of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
The UK has imposed 46 sanctions of asset freezes and travel bans. The first category of these focuses mainly on forced labour in the large-scale online ‘scam farms’ in Southeast Asia. Earlier, the UN had found that over 220,000 victims were trapped in Cambodia and Myanmar, forced to participate in cybercrime scams and subject to abuses including torture and sexual violence. The second category is against government authorities in Belarus, Haiti, Iran and Syria who took part in repressing citizens for exercising fundamental freedom. The sanctions seek to address Belarus’ politically motivated trials, Iran’s enforcement of mandatory hijab law, the chemical weapon attack committed by Assad’s regime in Syria and the 2018 La Saline attacks in Haiti.
At the same time, the US has imposed 37 sanctions that address human rights abuses across 13 countries, including Afghanistan, China and Russia. Human rights abuses involve a variety of issues, such as the restriction of access to secondary education for females in Afghanistan, arbitrary detentions of Uyghurs in China Xinjiang, and the cruel, inhuman, or degrading punishment of Russian anti-war demonstrators in opposition to Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine. The US also targets other human rights abuses including forced labour in Indonesia, and governmental repression of human rights in Syria, Uganda and Zimbabwe.
Lastly, Canada has imposed 7 sanctions against citizens from Russia, Iran and Myanmar. The human rights abuses involve the LGBTQI+ purge that took place in Chechnya, the killing of an Iranian-Canadian journalist and the mass attacks on civilian structures and disposal of democratically elected civilian government in Myanmar.
All three countries similarly state that their sanctions aim to promote accountability for human rights abuses and violations. UK Home Secretary James Cleverly said that the sanctions sent a clear warning to “people attempting to gain from human rights abuses will be brought to justice”. The Canadian Minister of Foreign Affairs also affirmed that Canada will continue to work with its international partners to pursue accountability for gross human rights violations.