Mark questions Foreign Office Minister on the application of sanctions

9th April 2019

Following the Government's confirmation that existing sanctions will continue after we leave the EU, Mark questions the Minister of State for the Foreign Office about named individuals on the sanctions list as a result of the Magnitsky amendment.

The Minister mentioned the Sanctions and Anti-Money Laundering Bill. While we are talking about specific countries, that Bill, which is now an Act, did include the Magnitsky amendment. He referenced a list should the United Kingdom leave without a deal, and that general list would no doubt include other countries as well. In that regard, what is the current position of the Government on individuals named on a sanctions list in relation to the Magnitsky amendment, which is now part of an Act?

I say to my hon. Friend that I will come on to that in just a second. I will answer the question raised in his intervention, but let me complete the introductory logic of what these four statutory instruments are intended to do.

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The Minister is being very generous. May I ask him why not a single individual Russian is on any sanctions list at the moment? It is rather odd that the Government’s position seems to be that the justification for no Russian being on any list is that we cannot do this until we leave the European Union, despite the fact that all the Baltic states have individual Russians on a sanctions list. If we are going to remain de facto within the European Union, surely the justification for taking action is going to continue.

First, I say to my hon. Friend that this is not just against Russians. If people have violated human rights anywhere in the world, they could come within the scope of the Magnitsky clause I have been describing. I say again that the reason why we have not yet applied the Magnitsky elements of the sanctions Act is that the statutory instrument making it a bespoke part of that Act within UK autonomous law has not yet been made, and it that was done too rapidly—he will appreciate that we have had about 3,000 statutory instruments to get through this House because of EU exit—there would be a high risk of constant legal challenge, which we would like to avoid.

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