Britain on July 6 identified 49 “notorious” individuals and organizations, 20 of them Saudi and 25 Russians, to be sanctioned under its first post-Brexit targeting of accused human rights violators.
The Saudis are listed for their alleged roles in the killing of the journalist Jamal Khashoggi in Turkey and the Russians are listed for their alleged involvement in the death of lawyer Sergei Magnitsky, the Foreign Office said.
One notable name on the list is Saud al-Qahtani, who it is believed oversaw the team that killed Khashoggi in the Saudi consulate in Istanbul in 2018.
Individuals from North Korea were also included on the list and all those named will have their UK assets frozen and travel bans imposed.
It is the first time Britain has gone it alone and used sanctions to penalize individuals and organizations accused of human rights abuse.
Previously, it has followed European Union and United Nations sanctions regimes.
The new measures were announced by Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab in a statement to the House of Commons.
He said the government would now have the “power to impose sanctions on those involved in the very worst human rights abuses right around the world.
“These sanctions are a forensic tool, they allow us to target perpetrators without punishing the wider people of a country that may be affected.”
The move follows the passage of the 2018 Sanctions Act to set up a post-Brexit sanctions regime.
The decision drew a furious reaction from Russia, marking another low-point between the two countries.
“The Russian side reserves the right to take retaliatory measures in connection with Britain’s hostile decision,” the Russian embassy in London said in a statement without elaborating.
Meanwhile, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo backed the move as an example of British post-Brexit diplomacy.
“This sanctions regime marks the beginning of a new era for UK sanctions policy and cooperation between our two democracies,” he said in a statement.
Khashoggi was a Saudi journalist based in the United States, whose columns were critical of the Saudi regime. He was killed inside the Saudi consulate in Istanbul.