EU adopts a global human rights sanctions regime

The European Union (EU) has adopted a decision and a regulation establishing a global human rights sanctions regime.

For the first time, the EU is equipping itself with a framework that will allow it to target individuals, entities and bodies – including state and non-state actors – responsible for, involved in or associated with serious human rights violations and abuses worldwide, no matter where they occurred.

Such restrictive measures will provide for a travel ban applying to individuals, and the freezing of funds applying to both individuals and entities. In addition, persons and entities in the EU will be forbidden from making funds available to those listed, either directly or indirectly.

The framework for targeted restrictive measures applies to acts such as genocide, crimes against humanity and other serious human rights violations or abuses (e.g. torture, slavery, extrajudicial killings, arbitrary arrests or detentions). Other human rights violations or abuses can also fall under the scope of the sanctions regime where those violations or abuses are widespread, systematic or are otherwise of serious concern as regards the objectives of the common foreign and security policy set out in the Treaty (Article 21 TEU).

It will be for the Council, acting upon a proposal from a member state or from the High Representative of the EU for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, to establish, review and amend the sanctions list.

Today’s decision emphasises that the promotion and protection of human rights remain a cornerstone and priority of EU external action and reflects the EU’s determination to address serious human rights violations and abuses.

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