Press Releases

PRESS RELEASE : UK sanctions target 30 corrupt political figures, human rights violators and perpetrators of conflict-related sexual violence around the world [December 2022]

The press release issued by the Foreign Office on 9 December 2022.

Foreign Secretary has announced sanctions that targets corrupt actors, those violating human rights, and as perpetrators of sexual-violence in conflict.

  • New UK sanctions target 30 individuals and entities oppressing fundamental freedoms around the world in most widespread package to date
  • This includes 18 designations targeting individuals involved in violations and abuses of human rights and 6 perpetrators behind conflict-related sexual violence
  • A further 5 individuals targeted for their involvement in serious corruption and illicit finance

Foreign Secretary James Cleverly has today (09 December) announced a new wave of sanctions that targets corrupt actors, and those violating and abusing human rights, as well as perpetrators of sexual violence in conflict.

This wave, co-ordinated with international partners, marks International Anti-Corruption Day and Human Rights Day.

The package includes individuals and entities involved in a wide range of grievous activities – including the torture of prisoners, the mobilisation of troops to rape civilians, and systematic atrocities.

These sanctions demonstrate the UK’s commitment to defend free societies and the human rights of everyone, everywhere.

Foreign Secretary James Cleverly said:

It is our duty to promote free and open societies around the world. Today our sanctions go further to expose those behind the heinous violations of our most fundamental rights to account. We are committed to using every lever at our disposal to secure a future of freedom over fear.

Since gaining new powers following our exit from the EU, the Foreign, Commonwealth, and Development Office has used targeted sanctions across multiple regimes to hold those committing these egregious acts, whether in Russia, Iran, Myanmar, or elsewhere, to account.

Today’s sanctions include targets from 11 countries across 7 sanctions regimes – the most that the UK has ever brought together in one package.

Sanctions targeting Human Rights violators and abusers

As part of today’s package, the UK has designated 8 individuals under our Global Human Rights regime, which allows the UK to stop those involved in serious human rights abuses and violations from entering the country, channelling money through UK banks, or profiting from our economy. These sanctions include:

  • Mian Abdul Haq, a Muslim Cleric from Pakistan, responsible for forced conversions and marriages of girls and women from religious minorities
  • General Kale Kayihura, the Inspector General of Police in Uganda from 2005 to 2018. While Kayihura was in charge, he oversaw multiple units responsible for human rights violations including torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment and punishment
  • Sadrach Zelodon Rocha and Yohaira Hernandez Chirino, the mayor and deputy mayor of Matagalpa in Nicaragua. Both have been involved in promoting and supporting grievous violations of human rights
  • Andrey Tishenin, member of the Russian Federal Security Service in Crimea, and Artur Shambazov, a senior detective in the Autonomous republic of Crimea. The pair tortured Ukrainian Oleksandr Kostenko in 2015
  • Valentin Oparin, Major of Justice for the Russian Federation, and Oleg Tkachenko, Head of Public Prosecutions for the Rostov region. Both individuals have obstructed complaints of torture, with Tkachenko also using torture to extract testimony

Sanctions in Iran and Russia

The UK is also using geographical sanctions regimes to ensure that violators of human rights are held to account.

10 Iranian officials connected to Iran’s judicial and prison systems, have been sanctioned.

This includes 6 individuals linked to the Revolutionary Courts that have been responsible for prosecuting protestors with egregious sentences including the death penalty.

In addition, Ali Cheharmahali, and Ghloamreza Ziyayi, former directors of the Evin Prison, in Tehran, a facility notorious for the mistreatment of both Iranian and foreign detainees, have been sanctioned. Allah Karam Azizi, warden of Razee Shahr Prison, has also been sanctioned.

The UK has also sanctioned the Russian Colonel Ibatullin for his role as the commander of the 90th Tank Division, which has been on the front line since Russia began its illegal full-scale invasion of Ukraine.

Sexual violence in conflict, which is currently happening in at least 18 active conflicts around the world, is an abhorrent act and and prohibited by international law.

In many cases it is used as a deliberate method of warfare. Six individuals and entities are being sanctioned today – utilising one of the tools at the UK’s disposal to hold perpetrators of CRSV to account.

Amongst those sanctioned today are Gordon Koang Biel and Gatluak Nyang Hoth, the County Commissioners for Koch and Mayendit in South Sudan. Both individuals were involved in the conflicts in the Unity State between February and May 2022, and mobilised troops to rape civilians.

The Katiba Macina group, also known as the Macina Liberation Front, in Mali, has been sanctioned. The group is known for perpetrating sexual violence, including the organisation of forced marriages

Today’s sanctions also target those involved in the Myanmar military junta. The security forces are known for committing systematic atrocities against the people of Myanmar, including massacre, torture, and rape. Designations include:

  • The Office of the Chief of Military and Security Affairs. It is reported that this office has been the central perpetrator of torture for interrogation since the coup, including rape and sexual violence
  • The 33rd and 99th Light Infantry Division of the Myanmar Armed Forces who were responsible for attacks including sexual violence during ‘the clearance operations” of the Rakhine state in 2017 and continue to commit atrocities across the country.

Sanctions targeting corrupt actors

The UK is also today using its Global Anti-Corruption regime to sanction an additional 5 individuals.

Lining their pockets through corruption and theft, corrupt actors have a corrosive effect on the communities around them – undermining democracy and depriving countries of vital resources for their own gain.

As a result, over 2% of global GDP is lost to corruption every single year.

The UK is using sanctions to tackle serious corruption. Today’s designations include:

  • Slobodan Tesic, a significant arms dealer based in Serbia, accused of bribing the Chief State Prosecutor of another country
  • Ilan Shor, the Chairman of the Şor Party in Moldova, and reportedly involved in the 2014 Moldovan Bank Fraud Scandal. Shor was accused of bribery to secure his position as chair of the Banca de Economii in 2014
  • Vladimir Plahotniuc, a businessman and a former politician, fugitive from Moldovan justice, involved in capturing and corrupting Moldova’s state institutions
  • Milan Radojcic, a construction industry businessman and Vice president of Serb List. Radojcic has profited from the misappropriation of state contracts and used his influence to award his own construction companies lucrative contracts
  • Zvonko Veselinovic, a construction industry businessman in Kosovo using public contracts to misappropriate state funds

The UK will continue to use all levers at our disposal to tackle corrupt actors and morally reprehensible violations and abuses, including sexual violence, of human rights around the world.