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Sanctions as a Tool to Protect Human Rights at Sea

This article first appeared in Human Rights at Sea's Insight Briefing Note August 2020 and is linked here with the kind permission of HRAS.

In July 2020 the UK introduced the Global Human Rights Sanctions Regulations 2020 (“the Regulations”). 

These measures follow similar steps taken by the US’s Global Magnitsky Sanctions Regimeand empower the UK Government to impose sanctions on those who have violated an individual’s:

  • Right to life,
  • Right not to be subjected to torture or cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment, or
  • Right to be free from slavery, not to be held in servitude or required to perform forced or compulsory labour

Those who are determined to have committed these human rights offences will have their assets in the UK frozen, they will be barred from entering the UK and UK persons will be unable to deal with their assets located outside the UK, . This effectively excludes the sanctioned person from the UK's financial system, which in the maritime space is a considerable penalty due to the UK’s key role in this sector.

As the offences which trigger designation can be committed by an individual (not just by state officials) anywhere in the world, the Regulations have the potential to be used to target persons committing human rights abuses against seafarers at sea.

Whether the Regulations will in fact be used in this way by the UK Government in the event that there is evidence of human rights abuses will in turn depend on the views of UK policy makers regarding human rights violations which take place at sea.

To read the full article please click here which will take you to Human Rights at Sea's website https://www.humanrightsatsea.org and their news feed https://www.humanrightsatsea.org/news/

About HRAS

Human Rights at Sea was established in April 2014. It was founded as an initiative to explore issues of maritime human rights development, review associated policies and legislation, and to undertake independent investigation of abuses at sea. It rapidly grew beyond all expectations and for reasons of governance it became a registered charity under the UK Charity Commission in 2015.

Today, the charity is an established, regulated and independent registered non-profit organisation based on the south coast of the United Kingdom. It undertakes Research, Advocacy, Investigation and Lobbying specifically for human rights issues in the maritime environment, including contributing to support for the human element that underpins the global maritime and fishing industries.

The charity works internationally with all individuals, commercial and maritime community organisations including all the principal maritime welfare organisations.

For further information, please contact;

Daniel Martin,
Partner, London
T +44 (0)20 7264 8189
E daniel.martin@hfw.com

Isabel Phillips
Associate, London
T +44 (0)20 7264 8496 | 
E isabel.phillips@hfw.com

Assisted by James Neale, Trainee Solicitor

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