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UK slaps visa, travel bans on human rights violators

London: Under a new regime of sanctions unveiled against violators of human rights, two top Myanmar army officials involved in atrocities against Rohingya Muslims are among 49 individuals and entities announced by UK government on Monday.

Foreign secretary Dominic Raab announced on Monday that the regime has aimed to equip the post-Brexit UK with new powers to stop those involved in serious human rights abuses and violations from entering the country, channelling money through UK banks, or profiting from the British economy and to freeze assets.

Mostly individuals have been identified as Russian and Saudi Arabian in the first such list of sanctions. But the list also includes Myanmar army commander-in-chief Min Aung Hlaing and Soe Win, deputy commander-in-chief – both named in relation to Rohinyas in Rakhine state.

UK has sanctioned people or entities for human rights violations and abuses under a UK-only regime for the first time. It previously joined collective sanctions imposed by the United Nations and the European Union.

Officials said that the first list included 25 Russian nationals involved in the mistreatment and death of auditor Sergei Magnitsky, who uncovered widespread Russian corruption by a group of Russian tax and police officials; 20 Saudi nationals involved in the death of journalist Jamal Khashoggi; and two organisations involved in the forced labour, torture and murder that takes place in North Korea's gulags.

Raab said the regime will allow the UK to target individuals and organisations around the world unlike conventional geographic sanctions regime, which only target a country.

It could also include those who commit unlawful killings perpetrated against journalists and media workers, or violations and abuses motivated on the grounds of religion or belief.

A special unit will consider the use of future sanctions, with teams across the department monitoring human rights issues.

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