Saudi officials linked to the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi will be included in a new tougher sanctions regime which will be announced today by the UK Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab.
Details of the post-Brexit sanctions regime will be set out in Parliament today targeting human rights abusers, with Saudis among those included in the list. The alleged killers of Khashoggi will be among the first foreign citizens to face visa bans and asset freezes, a move that is likely to strain ties to one of Britain’s biggest allies in the Gulf.
“With this legislation, the UK will have new powers to stop those involved in serious human rights abuses and violations from entering the UK, channelling money through our banks and profiting from our economy,” Raab is reported saying in the Financial Times.
“This is a clear example of how the UK will act as a force for good in the world, standing up for human rights. We will not let those who seek to inflict pain and destroy the lives of innocent victims benefit from what the UK has to offer.”
Raab told the FT that the new regime could be expanded later in the year to cover issues such as corruption. The oppression of journalists and abuses of people because of their religious beliefs could also be added.
Raab explained that Britain would use its autonomous sanctions regime to work with other allies including the EU, the US, Canada and Australia to punish those involved in serious crimes.
Khashoggi was assassinated in the kingdom’s consulate in Istanbul on 2 October 2018 while attaining paperwork for his marriage to Hatice Cengiz. Around 20 suspects made up the hit team, including prominent Saudi government officials such as the deputy intelligence chief Ahmed Al-Assiri and the royal court’s media chief Saud Al-Qahtani who is thought to have led the operation.
Though Riyadh sentenced five people to death, Al-Qahtani however was acquitted along with a number of other key officials that are alleged to have played a role in the murder including Crown Prince Mohamed Bin Salman. The UN and the CIA have concluded that the de-facto ruler of the kingdom had himself sanctioned the murder.
There is nothing to suggest that the new UK sanctions regime will include Bin Salman in its blacklist.
In March, Turkey’s public prosecutor indicted 20 Saudis for the murder of Khashoggi. Last week Istanbul held a trial for those suspected of the murder in absentia.