20th July 2020

Andrew Mitchell urges Government to emphasise that Magnitsky legislation is aimed at human rights abusers and not aimed at the Chinese per se.


I very much welcome both the tone and the content of what my right hon. Friend has said today. He is surely right to emphasise the importance of co-operation wherever we can and not of confrontation wherever possible. After all, we have more in common with China when it comes to climate change negotiations than we do currently with the United States. Will he emphasise to the Chinese authorities that the Magnitsky legislation and the human rights measures that he has so ably and rightly introduced are not aimed at the Chinese per se, but at human rights abusers, corrupt officials and business people wheresoever they may be?

My right hon. Friend is absolutely right. I welcome and thank him for his support. When the Magnitsky sanctions were originally debated, the Russian Government said that the measure was solely aimed at Russia and when it was originally debated, discussed and enacted in the US, there were different Bills in the Senate and in the House of Representatives. We were very clear in the model that we adopted that this would be a universal mechanism, that it would allow us to target the individuals, whether they were state or non-state actors, and that it did not involve us, as a wider economic embargo or sanctions would do, in punishing the individual people of the country. This is a very bespoke, forensic tool, but it gives effect to exactly what he describes.