On 29 September 2020, the Office of Financial Sanctions Implementation announced that 8 Belarusian officials, including Alexander Lukashenko, his son Victor, and other senior Belarusian government officials, have been subjected to sanctions (asset freezes and travel bans) under the UK’s autonomous Global Human Rights sanctions regime. This regime was introduced earlier in 2020 as a “Magnitsky-style” regime, and is the first autonomous sanctions regime adopted by the UK following its departure from the EU. For further information on sanctions under the Global Human Rights sanctions regime, please see our earlier post: UK Imposes First Global Human Rights Sanctions.

In the UK Government’s words, the sanctions were imposed “in response to the torture and mistreatment of hundreds of peaceful protestors in custody following the fraudulent Presidential elections” in Belarus on 9 August 2020, and “build on earlier steps taken by the UK to hold the Belarusian authorities to account“. The UK unilaterally imposed these sanctions following the EU’s failure to agree a joint position on Belarus. This was reportedly due to objections by the Cypriot Government related to the EU’s failure to impose sanctions on Turkey in connection with its drilling activities in the eastern Mediterranean. The UK’s actions are part of a coordinated international approach with Canada, which has also imposed similar sanctions.

The UK Government has also provided guidance on the sanctions regime in its Global Human Rights Sanctions Guidance.