Global Human Rights Sanctions Regulations 2020 - Motion to Approve

Part of the debate – in the House of Lords at 5:44 pm on 29th July 2020.

Alert me about debates like this

Photo of Lord Garnier Lord Garnier Conservative 5:44 pm, 29th July 2020

My Lords, I thank my noble friend the Minister for his introduction to the debate. He is aware of my support for these measures and I hope that both on their own and in conjunction with similar measures in other countries, such as the United States, they will prove to be effective.

If I have the slightest doubt about their effectiveness, it is based on the claims for unexplained wealth orders, or UWOs, which have not proved to be as workable as intended. Last month, the National Crime Agency lost an application for permission to appeal against a High Court decision to discharge UWOs against family members of the former Kazakh president. Earlier Australian experience of UWOs warned us not to be too optimistic about them. However, in agreeing with the two points of important principle made by the noble and learned Lord, Lord Judge, I hope that, with sufficient resources, national resolve and international co-operation, this sanctions regime has a good chance of working effectively.

Can my noble friend say more about plans for the future? For example, when will the Foreign Office next consider other candidates to add to the designation list, and when should NGOs, civil society organisations and other interested parties submit their evidence? Many organisations, although short of funds, want to help the Government succeed, but they will find it difficult to be of practical assistance until they have a better idea of when they should prepare evidence for active consideration by the Foreign Office.

These organisations will, if only for financial reasons, be reluctant to commit time and resources if they feel that their evidence will simply gather dust in some forgotten archive. I understand that in the United States, the State Department has a more detailed process in place, with each designation round requiring evidence to be submitted by a certain time. Will the Government put something similar in place?

Finally, I urge the Government not to allow our currently strained relations with China and their economic consequences to inhibit consideration of evidence about Chinese officials involved in serious human rights violations against the Uighurs in Xinjiang. I appreciate that the Government cannot speculate about future designations, but it would be helpful if my noble friend the Minister could note that evidence is being gathered about the systematic abuse of the Uighurs, which may soon be brought to his attention.