Tuesday, January 26, 2021

UK sanctions Gambia’s ex-President Yahya Jammeh over human rights abuses

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The United Kingdom has slapped sanctions on The Gambia’s former president Yahya Jammeh, as it widened travel bans and economic sanctions for human rights abuses worldwide.

Jammeh, whose election defeat to Adama Barrow in December 2016 forced him to flee, was one of three from the West African nation on an updated list targeting 10 people across the globe.

“Today’s sanctions send a clear message to human rights violators that the UK will hold them to account,” said UK Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab on Thursday.

The former president, his wife Zineb, and the former director-general of the country’s National Intelligence Agency, Yankuba Badjie, are all now subject to asset freezes and a UK travel ban.

London said Jammeh was behind “inciting, promoting, ordering and being directly involved in extrajudicial killings, enforced disappearances, kidnappings, torture, rape, as well as wider human rights violations” after he seized power in a coup in 1994.

Zineb Jammeh was sanctioned for the same reason, and for using charities as a cover for the illicit transfer of funds between herself and her husband.

Both are already under similar sanctions from the United States.

Others on the list included three members of the Venezuelan military, the speaker of the parliament of the Russian region of Chechnya as well as the region’s Terek Special Rapid Response Unit.

In Pakistan, Anwar Ahmed Khan, a former Karachi police “encounter specialist” suspected of being behind more than 190 “hits” that led to more than 400 deaths, also faces restrictions.

The UK, which left the European Union in January, introduced its own sanctions system in July, identifying 49 “notorious” individuals and organisations accused of human rights abuses.

The first included 25 Russians allegedly involved in the death of lawyer Sergei Magnitsky, and 20 Saudis suspected of involvement in the killing of the journalist Jamal Khashoggi.

Belarus President Alexander Lukashenko was sanctioned in September in response to the recent disputed election and following a crackdown on protesters.

There are now 65 people on the UK sanctions list and three organisations.

Meanwhile, the government is under pressure to impose similar sanctions on Hong Kong chief executive Carrie Lam over abuses by the police against pro-democracy protesters.

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