As required by Section 43 of the Sanctions and Anti-Money Laundering Act 2018 (‘the Sanctions Act’), the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs has provided this guidance to assist in the implementation of and compliance with theGlobal Human Rights Sanctions Regulations 2020(‘the Regulations’).
As required by the Sanctions Act, this document contains guidance on the prohibitions and requirements imposed by the Regulations. It additionally provides guidance on best practice for complying with the prohibitions and requirements; the enforcement of them; and circumstances where they do not apply.
This document is intended to be read alongside more detailed sanctions guidance published by departments including the Home Office and HM Treasury, through the Office of Financial Sanctions Implementation (OFSI).
This document contains links to key sources of sanctions guidance, which will be regularly maintained and updated on GOV.UK. It is designed to give an overview of the prohibitions and requirements in the Regulations and, where appropriate, direct readers to further detailed guidance. This document is current on the date of publication.
1.Prohibitions and requirements imposed by the Global Human Rights Sanctions Regulations 2020
The Regulations impose financial and immigration sanctions in order to deter, and provide accountability for, activities which, if carried out by or on behalf of a state within the territory of that state, would amount to a serious violation by that state of an individual’s:
right to life
right not to be subjected to torture or cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment
right to be free from slavery, not to be held in servitude or required to perform forced or compulsory labour
These activities could be carried out by either a state or non-state actor and, accordingly, both state and non-state actors may be designated under these Regulations. Whilst non-state actors do not have obligations under international human rights law, the UK nevertheless recognises the harmful and devastating impact that such activities by non-state actors can have on individuals’ mental and physical well-being.
In order to achieve the stated purposes, the Regulations impose a number of prohibitions and requirements. In order to enforce these, the Regulations establish penalties and offences, which are set out in detail in the corresponding report under Section 18 of the Sanctions Act in relation to criminal offences.
The prohibitions and requirements imposed by these Regulations apply within the United Kingdom (UK) and in relation to the conduct of all UK persons wherever they are in the world. UK persons include British nationals, as well as all bodies incorporated or constituted under the law of any part of the UK. Accordingly, the prohibitions and requirements imposed by these Regulations apply to all companies established in any part of the UK, and they also apply to branches of UK companies operating overseas.
It is prohibited to intentionally participate in any activities if you know that the object or effect of them is to circumvent the prohibitions and requirements imposed by these Regulations or to enable or facilitate the contravention of any of the financial or immigration sanctions prohibitions.
If you are unclear about any aspects of the Regulations, in particular about whether action you are considering taking could contravene these Regulations, you are advised to seek independent legal advice.
Prohibitions and requirements in relation to the financial and immigration sanctions contained in these Regulations are set out below.
The Regulations provide that the Secretary of State may designate persons for the purposes of the targeted financial and immigration sanctions if they are, or have been, involved in a relevant activity.
When these Regulations are in force a list of those persons designated under these Regulations and details of the sanctions in respect of which they have been designated, will be on GOV.UK.
The Regulations impose financial sanctions through a targeted asset freeze on designated persons. This involves the freezing of funds and economic resources (non-monetary assets, such as property or vehicles) of designated persons and ensuring that funds and economic resources are not made available to or for the benefit of designated persons, either directly or indirectly.
OFSI is the authority responsible for implementing the UK’s financial sanctions on behalf of HM Treasury. OFSI helps to ensure that financial sanctions are properly understood, implemented and enforced in the United Kingdom. Further information onhow OFSI implements financial sanctionscan be found on the OFSI pages of GOV.UK.
The effect of these Regulations is to impose a travel ban on persons who are designated by the Secretary of State. A person who is designated for the purposes of this regulation is an excluded person for the purposes of section 8B of the Immigration Act 1971.
This means that those individuals will be refused leave to enter or remain in the UK. Any application they make for a visa to travel to the UK, including for transit purposes, will be refused. A foreign national who is subject to a travel ban under these Regulations, and is currently in the UK, will have their permission to stay in the UK cancelled and steps will be taken to remove them from the UK.
If you are the subject of an immigration sanction and try to travel to the UK, carriers are required to deny you boarding.
For the purpose of the financial sanctions contained in these Regulations, Part 6 of the Regulations places obligations on relevant firms (the definition of which is set out in the Regulations) to report information to HM Treasury: about known or suspected designated persons, or about persons who have committed an offence under specified provisions of these Regulations.
It also grants powers to HM Treasury to request information from, amongst others, a designated person, including powers to request the production of documents. It also establishes offences for failing to comply with these requests (including for providing false information in respect of Treasury licences).
If you have obligations or responsibilities under Part 6 of these Regulations, it is important that you familiarise yourself with them. If you are unclear about your obligations or responsibilities, you are advised to seek independent legal advice.
2.How will these sanctions measures be enforced?
The Regulations make it a criminal offence to contravene the immigration and financial sanctions, as well as to enable or facilitate a contravention of, or to circumvent any of the financial prohibitions in these Regulations. They also prescribe the mode of trial and penalties that apply to such offences. In addition to the below, further details on offences and penalties can be found in the relevantSection 18 reportaccompanying these Regulations.
Breaches of financial sanctions are a serious criminal offence. Any breach of the main financial prohibitions in the Regulations is an offence that is triable either way and carries a maximum sentence of 7 years’ imprisonment or a fine (or both). Committing an offence under regulation 25(6) (Finance: reporting obligations) or 29 (Finance: information offences) carries a maximum sentence of 6 months’ imprisonment or a fine (or both).
OFSI is responsible for monitoring compliance with financial sanctions and for assessing suspected breaches. It also has the power to impose monetary penalties for breaches of financial sanctions and to refer cases to law enforcement agencies for investigation and potential prosecution.
OFSI works with other parts of government, supervisory bodies and regulators to consider all cases reported to it, sharing relevant information accordingly.
If you find out that a person or organisation you are dealing with is subject to the financial sanctions detailed in the Regulations, you must immediately:
3.Are there circumstances when I can get an authorisation or licence for a sanctioned activity?
Licensing and exception provisions are contained in Part 5 of these Regulations.
The Regulations set out exceptions to some of the sanctions prohibitions which apply within certain defined circumstances. An exception applies automatically, and does not require you to obtain a licence.
These Regulations establish exceptions relating to financial sanctions, including for the crediting of a frozen account by a relevant institution, provided that any such credits are frozen in accordance with the relevant legislation underpinning the asset freeze. An exception also exists for when funds are transferred to a frozen account in discharge (or partial discharge) of an obligation which arose before the recipient became a designated person.
The Regulations include an exception for acts done for the purposes of national security or prevention of serious crime. If you are unsure whether an exception applies in your circumstances, you are advised to seek independent legal advice.
3.2Licensing for financial sanctions
Where a person is designated for the purposes of the financial sanctions contained in these Regulations, the person or representative (on their behalf) may apply for a licence from OFSI to use their funds or economic resources (non-monetary assets, such as property or vehicles). Schedule 2 of the Regulations sets out under which circumstances, or for which activities, OFSI may grant a licence. These are:
reasonable legal fees or reasonable expenses associated with the provision of legal services
reasonable fees for the routine holding or maintenance of frozen funds and economic resources
If you are subject to immigration sanctions the Home Office may direct, on a case by case basis, that the sanction does not apply in particular circumstances, such as for travel to, or through, the UK for a UN sponsored meeting. You can check on how toapply for a UK visa, and further information abouttravelling to the UKon GOV.UK.
To receive an email alerting you to any changes to the consolidated list of financial sanctions targets, you can subscribe toOFSI’s e-alert.