Citizen is a column that explains how the government’s policies fucks citizens and how we can unfuck ourselves.
Yesterday, November 24th 2020, the UK parliament, at the Westminister Hall debated e-petition 554150, relating to Nigeria and the sanctions regime. The debate was led by Theresa Villiers MP, and it suggested sanctions for members of the Nigerian Government and police officers who have been involved in human rights abuses.
The parliamentary debate has generated a lot of of controversy in Nigeria, especially given the way and manner that the Nigerian government and the Nigerian Army have gone about debunking their involvement in the shootings at Lekki, Lagos on the night of 20th October, 2020.
Given the highly charged nature of the recent EndSARS protests and the latest involvement of the UK government in the human rights abuses that continue to happen in Nigeria, we decided to explain how the UK Human Rights Sanctions Regulations actually works.
The UK Global Human Rights Sanctions Regulations
The UK Global Human Rights Sanctions Regulations was established on July 6, 2020. The sanctions in the regulations are supposed to provide accountability for activities which amounts to serious violations of human rights.
The sanctions apply to people who acted by or on behalf of a country, within the territory of that country. These people will be listed and their accounts could be frozen or a travel ban could be imposed on them, in a bid to promote accountability.
How Do The Regulations Work?
Section 4 of the Regulation provides that the regulation is to deter and provide accountability for actions falling within Paragraph 2.
The activity covered under paragraph 2 include actions that deny another person’s:
- Right to life
- Right not to be subjected to torture or cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment,
- Right to be free from slavery, not to be held in servitude or required to perform forced or compulsory labour, whether or not the activity is carried out by or on behalf a State.
Under, Section 4(3), an activity falls within paragraph 2 if it is carried out –
- outside the United Kingdom by any person;
- In the United Kingdom by a person who is not a United Kingdom person.
Under the regulation, the Secretary of State may designate a person for the purpose of asset freeze or immigration ban.
For the UK Secretary of State to designate a person, there must be reasonable ground to believe that the person is involved in the activities which the UK is trying to prohibit.
An involved person is someone who has been involved in the activity that is prohibited or is owned or controlled directly by a person who has been involved, or is associated with a person who has been involved.
Also, an involved person can either be responsible for such activity, promote such activity, hide evidence of such activity, provide financial support to people involved in such activity or assists in a way to the carrying out of such activity.
3. Asset Freeze
Section 11 of the Regulations talks about asset freeze.
Under it, no person must deal with funds or economic resources owned, held or controlled by a designated person if the person knows that a designated person is dealing in such funds or economic resources.
A person who goes ahead to deal with such funds is guilty of a crime and commits an offence.
This means that people who are listed will not have access to their funds or economic resources in the UK.
Under Section 17 of the Act, a person who is designated under Section 5 of the Regulations, by the Secretary of State is excluded for the purposes of immigration to the United Kingdom, under Section 8b of the Immigration Act of 1973.
In all, it is clear that human rights violations in Nigeria are fast gaining global attention. Recall that just last week, the CNN released a report that detailed happenings at the #LekkiMassacre on the night of 20th October 2020, using time stamps and data location pulled from the videos earlier sent to it.
We can only hope that justice is served with regards to every case of police brutality and human rights abuses in Nigeria. After all, we are tired.
We hope you’ve learned a thing or two about how to unfuck yourself when the Nigerian government moves mad. Check back every weekday by 10am for more Zikoko Citizen explainers.