International human rights leader Bill Browder has predicted that “all major civilized countries” will have a “relatively robust” Magnitsky-style sanctions regime in place within a year, which targets Hong Kong senior officials for the human rights violations they have committed. He also said that the UK government should be “shamed” for failing to impose such sanctions thus far.
Bill Browder, the campaigner behind the US Magnitsky-style sanction movement and a former business partner of Sergie Magnitsky who was tortured to death in prison, has led the call for governments across the world to sanction individuals for gross human rights violations, including those with authority in Hong Kong.
Mr Browder made the statement in a special event organised by grassroots campaign Stand with Hong Kong, supported by the Whitehouse Consultancy. Baroness Bennett, co-chair of the All-Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) on Hong Kong, hosted the event on Thursday 17th September entitled, ‘Bill Browder: What’s next for the British approach to Magnitsky sanctions and should more be done to embrace the movement?’. With China having introduced the draconian National Security Law and the authorities locking up pro-democracy activists, Hongkongers’ freedom has never been under greater threat.
Speaking at the event, Bill Browder said:
“I have watched the atrocities in Hong Kong, as everyone has. It is infuriating that we all feel powerless, but we aren’t powerless. The Magnitsky Act will very effectively sting the people involved in the crushing of free speech, expression and demonstration in Hong Kong.
“The Magnitsky Act creates a problem for people who are sanctioned and a fear among people who aren’t. If you are added to the Magnitsky list, you essentially become a non–person in the world of banking, finance and business. Your bank accounts will be closed. You will struggle to gain visas. International business will become impossible. This is a serious tool. I can’t think of a more appropriate case to apply this to than Hong Kong.
“The UK should be shamed for not imposing the same level of sanctions that other countries, including the USA, have against senior officials responsible for gross human rights violations across Hong Kong.
“The key to success is coordination. The biggest prize will be when the European Union introduces Magnitsky-style sanctions. Then, you gain 27 countries. The EU announced yesterday that it would move forward quickly on this and it specifically mentioned Hong Kong. I predict that all of the major civilized countries in the world will have a relatively robust Magnitsky sanctions policy in place, which targets Hong Kong, a year from now.”
A representative of Stand with Hong Kong said:
“Magnitsky style sanctions are important because they are a source of accountability. Despite the nature and levels of violence displayed by the police force, documented by international media, there is still no way for Hongkongers to hold them accountable. We believe Hong Kong, an international city, deserves international attention. There needs to be clear consequences for these atrocious actions. That is why we are proud to co-host this event and to truly call for concrete actions that will hold these brutal tactics accountable.”
Baroness Bennett said:
“We can all take a moment to think about the difficulties that Hongkongers face… the UK has a special responsibility to Hong Kong as co-signers of the Sino British Joint Declaration. I will ensure I do all I can to put pressure on the UK government to act.”
Please find the recording here and below.
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