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Britain sanctions Russians, Saudis



Britain has announced sanctions against dozens of officials from Russia and Saudi Arabia who are accused of international human rights violations.

Foreign Secretary, Dominic Raab, listed 47 individuals subject to sanctions including the freezing of their assets and a ban on entry to Britain on Monday.

He said they were involved in “some of the worst human rights abuses in recent memory’’.

“This is a demonstration of global Britain’s commitment to acting as a force for good in the world,’’ Raab said.

“We will defend media freedoms, protect freedom of religion and, with the measures, we are announcing and enacting today, hold to account the perpetrators of the worst human rights abuses,’’ he told parliament.

Those subject to Britain’s new Global Human Rights Sanctions Regulations, which are similar to the U.S. Magnitsky Act, include 25 Russians and 20 Saudi citizens.

“The first designations will cover those individuals involved in the torture and murder of Sergei Magnitsky, the lawyer, who disclosed the biggest known tax fraud in Russian history.’’

Britain has developed its sanctions independently of the European Union after it formally left the bloc in January, but the government said it would continue to cooperate with UN and EU multilateral sanctions regimes.

Raab said British officials would work closely with the U.S. but also “strongly support efforts to bring an EU human rights sanctions regime into effect’’.

Magnitsky act campaigner, Bill Browder, tweeted his thanks to Raab, saying a “huge milestone was passed today with the implementation of the UK Magnitsky Act on Sergei Magnitsky’s killers’’.

Browder said he visited Raab’s office later Monday for a planned meeting with Raab and Magnitsky’s widow and son.

Browder, who founded Hermitage Capital Management, was barred from Russia after alleging official corruption.

Magnitsky, also an anti-corruption activist, was a lawyer for his firm.

“Whilst others left Russia, understandably fearing for their lives, Magnitsky stayed on to take a stand for the rule of law and to strike a blow against the breath-taking corruption that plagues Russia,’’ Raab said.

“That bravery cost him his life,’’ he said, adding that Magnitsky was arrested in 2008 on “trumped-up charges” of tax evasion.

Russia criticised the new sanctions on Russian officials.

“We are particularly appalled by the designation of top officials of the Prosecutor General’s office and the Investigative Committee of the Russian Federation, as well as judges,’’ the Russian embassy in London said.

“Russia reserves the right to respond to today’s unfriendly decision by the UK,’’ the statement said.

Raab also said the 20 Saudi citizens subject to sanctions were “responsible for the brutal murder of the writer and journalist Jamal Khashoggi in Turkey in 2018’’.

Myanmar military leaders Min Aung Hlaing and Soe Win were also listed.

A UN fact-finding mission has recommended that both men be investigated and prosecuted for genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes.

North Korea’s public security and state security ministries were the only organisations listed for sanctions by the British government, which said more sanctions were “expected in the coming months’’.

Raab said the two security ministries were responsible for “the enslavement, torture and murder that take place in North Korea’s wretched gulags, in which it is estimated that hundreds of thousands of prisoners have perished over the last 50 years’’.

He told lawmakers that Britain’s sanctions were “a forensic tool’’.

“They allow us to target perpetrators without punishing the wider people of a country that may be affected.’’

Raab said Britain was also considering “how a corruption regime could be added to the armoury of legal weapons that we have’’. (NAN)

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Nigerian High Commission in Canada shuts operations indefinitely




Nigerian High Commission in Ottawa, Canada, has shutdown activities indefinitely.

In a statement posted on the High Commission’s website said the development followed the abuse of a system it put in place to attend to a limited number of persons due to COVID-19 protocols.

“The High Commission of the Federal Republic of Nigeria in Canada wishes to inform Nigerian communities in Canada and the general public that the mission remains closed to the public,” it said.

“The special intervention arrangement whereby emergency cases were being handled on a discretionary basis is hereby suspended.

According to the Commission, the system was set up to help Nigerians who had compelling passport renewal requests

“Our citizens for some reason chose to abuse this system; they would show up at the chancery without an appointment and insist on being attended to even on days when we were not open to the public at all,” the commission, however, said.

It explained that matters came to a halt on Friday, August, 14th when a group showed up at the High Commission and did not let the Embassy staff attend to those who had appointments.

“They went as far as holding a female staff member who went to address them, hostage, for over twenty minutes and subjected her to physical abuse,” the commission added.

“This kind of conduct is considered unnecessarily hostile and totally unacceptable and no embassy would tolerate conduct that puts the lives of its staff members at risk.”

While acknowledging that the closure of the airspace is limiting its ability to “bring much-needed passport booklets into the country” and is an area it will work on, the Nigerian High Commission disclosed that it is “considering ways to make our premises more secure and less susceptible to unruly behaviour and violent mob action.

Nigerians whose work or study permits have expired since March 2020, and who do not have a valid passport, have a grace period that lasts until December 31st, according to the Hig Commission.

“By this time, we expect to have resolved some of the challenging issues that COVID-19 has created,” the statement added.

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Ghana reopens 600 Nigerian shops after 6 months lock up




The Ghanaian government has reopened 600 shops belonging to Nigerian traders in Ghana six months after they were locked up.

The shops had been under lock and key since last December following a disagreement with the traders.

The President, National Association of Nigerian Traders, Dr Ken Ukaoha, disclosed this during a solidarity visit to the Chairman, Nigerians in Diaspora Commission, Abike Dabiri-Erewa, in Abuja on Tuesday.

Ukaoha stated that the visit to NIDCOM was to commend Dabiri-Erewa for her “untiring and unrelenting efforts in resolving the lockdown of Nigerian shops in Ghana for over six months.”

According to a statement by a NIDCOM information officer, Gabriel Odu, Ukaoha argued that the ECOWAS Protocol of Free Movement of Persons, Goods and Services should not be observed in breach but in the spirit of brotherhood and diplomatic reciprocity.

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