A new system of targeted sanctions could be used against the perpetrators of “gross human rights abuses” on the Uighur people in China, a bishop has told the House of Lords.
The Bishop of Rochester, James Langstaff, also urged the Government to consider the use of sanctions specifically to protect freedom of religion or belief around the world.
He was speaking during a recent debate on the Global Human Rights Sanctions Regulations 2020. The legislation brings the UK into line with the other nations’ approaches towards a ‘Magnitsky-style’ sanctions regime, which allows for sanctions against named individuals rather than simply states.
At present freedom of religion or belief is not included on the list of specific grounds on which the sanctions regime can be applied.
Urging the Government to reconsider this, Bishop James said: “Given that freedom of religion or belief is a foreign policy priority, I find it slightly surprising that this right is not explicitly included in the scope of the regulations in relation to sanctions.”
He added: Like others, I am particularly concerned about gross human rights abuses in China, especially against Uighurs. As one of my episcopal colleagues noted last week in a letter to the Foreign Secretary, ‘The images that we have seen in recent days and the reports emanating from the region are harrowing and require a clear and unequivocal response’.”