Sanctions (EU Exit) (Miscellaneous Amendments) (No. 4) Regulations 2020

Monday 8th February 2021

(2 months, 1 week ago)

Grand Committee

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Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office

Considered in Grand Committee

Moved by

Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon Portrait Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon
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That the Grand Committee do consider the Sanctions (EU Exit) (Miscellaneous Amendments) (No. 4) Regulations 2020.

Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon Portrait The Minister of State, Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon) (Con)
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My Lords, these instruments were laid between July 2019 and December 2020 under the powers provided by the Sanctions and Anti-Money Laundering Act 2018, also known as the sanctions Act. As noble Lords will be aware, the sanctions Act provides the legal framework within which the UK may impose, update and lift sanctions, whether autonomously or in line with our UN obligations, now that we have left the EU. It is the foundation for an independent sanctions policy in support of our foreign policy and national security interests.

To establish individual sanctions regimes within that framework, we are required to lay statutory instruments. Of the nine instruments we are considering today, seven transition existing EU regimes into UK law. As set out in my letter to parliamentary colleagues of 25 January, the new UK regimes and the measures they contain are intended to have substantially the same effect as those they replace. The two remaining instruments amend the other statutory instruments that establish sanctions regimes.

The amendments in the Sanctions (EU Exit) (Miscellaneous Amendments) (No. 2) Regulations 2020 are designed to ensure that our entire suite of sanctions legislation is as consistent and clear in its provisions as possible. Many regimes contain the same sanctions measures and we strive for consistency in language to promote consistency in interpretation, application and enforcement. British businesses often export goods or provide services to more than one country subject to sanctions, and any inconsistency in the wording of the legislation can cause confusion and increase their compliance costs.

The amendments in Sanctions (EU Exit) (Miscellaneous Amendments) (No. 4) Regulations 2020 ensure that UK persons in the Crown dependencies and overseas territories are not unduly affected by the extraterritorial application of UK law. They create an exception to the extraterritorial prohibition so that a licence from the authorities in that jurisdiction is sufficient to authorise UK persons’ conduct there. Those persons do not then need also to obtain the licence from the UK authorities to avoid committing an offence under UK law.

I would now like to elaborate further on the purposes of the seven regimes which these instruments establish. First, the Bosnia and Herzegovina sanctions regulations are aimed at promoting peace, stability and security in Bosnia and respect for its sovereignty and territorial integrity. They are also intended to encourage compliance with and the implementation of the general framework agreement for peace, which established Bosnia and Herzegovina as a single sovereign state. The regulations permit the imposition of financial and immigration sanctions.

The Burundi sanctions regulations aim to encourage the Government of Burundi to respect democratic principles and institutions, and the rule of law and good governance in Burundi; to participate in negotiations with their political opponents in good faith to bring about a peaceful solution to the political situation; to refrain from policies or activities that repress civil society; and to comply with international human rights law and respect human rights. They permit the imposition of financial and immigration sanctions.

The cyber sanctions regulations are aimed at preventing certain types of cyberactivity that undermine the integrity, prosperity or security of the UK or any other country. They are also intended to prevent certain types of cyberactivity that cause the economic loss or prejudice of commercial interests, undermine the independence or effective functioning of an international organisation, or otherwise affect a significant number of people in an indiscriminate manner. The regulations permit the imposition of financial and immigration sanctions. We have imposed sanctions on the same 12 individuals and entities as were sanctioned in 2020 by the EU. These include actors from Russia, China and the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea.

The Guinea sanctions regulations aim to encourage the Government of Guinea to properly investigate the violent repression that took place on 28 September 2009 and its aftermath, as well as to hold those responsible to account. The regulations permit the imposition of targeted financial and immigration sanctions.

The misappropriation sanctions regulations are aimed at deterring and providing accountability for the misappropriation of state funds from a country outside the UK. They permit the imposition of financial and immigration sanctions. Rather than establish geographical regimes, as existed under EU legislation, this instrument creates a single thematic regime under which designations can be made in respect of misappropriation of state funds taking place anywhere outside the UK, allowing for greater agility and flexibility.

The Nicaragua sanctions regulations are aimed at encouraging the Government of Nicaragua to respect democratic principles and institutions, the separation of powers and the rule of law, to refrain from the repression of civil society and to respect human rights. The regulations permit the imposition of financial and immigration sanctions.

The Unauthorised Drilling Activities in the Eastern Mediterranean (Sanctions) (EU Exit) Regulations 2020 aim to discourage any unauthorised hydrocarbon exploration or production activities in the territorial sea or exclusive economic zone of the Republic of Cyprus or on its continental shelf. They permit the imposition of financial and immigration sanctions.

In conclusion, sanctions are a key part of many of the UK’s political and diplomatic strategies. They also contribute to our efforts to uphold and defend the rules-based international order. The United Kingdom has long been a global leader in this field and this will not change now that we have left the European Union. Our independent sanctions policy allows us to use sanctions to achieve maximum impact by working in a way that is agile, expertise-driven and in support of our values, and enables collaboration with both new and established partners. International co-operation is at the heart of our policy. As I have said a number of times, sanctions are most effective when implemented and enforced collectively. We will continue to co-ordinate closely with our European and other international partners on sanctions, using the excellent relationships and networks we have already established.

These regulations are a crucial part of the legal basis that underpins our sanctions policy and of which the sanctions Act is the keystone. With them in place, we can promote and protect security, stability and prosperity at home and overseas, call for accountability and justice, and deter human rights violations and abuses. In short, they will help us to project the United Kingdom as a force for good in the world. I beg to move.

Lord Chidgey Portrait Lord Chidgey (LD) [V]
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I thank the Minister for his introductory comments. Allow me first to declare my interest as a partner in the advisory board of Transparency International UK. Under the guidance of its offices, I presented a Private Member’s Bill to curb corruption. The then Labour Government did not support it and it fell in the Lords. A remarkably similar government Bill subsequently appeared and sailed through on to the statute book. Be that as it may, there have been remarkably few prosecutions under the Act in the years that followed; perhaps these SIs will help jog the institutional memory—perhaps through the updates that the Minister alluded to.

My remarks focus on Burundi and Guinea, primarily because they are two countries of which I have personal knowledge and experience, and thus like to think I can speak on with a degree of authority. I shall deal with Burundi first—this small, poor country in central Africa, overshadowed by its larger, more powerful neighbour, Rwanda. Like Rwanda, Burundi is threatened by ethnic turbulence, with a population of some 10 million split between 14% Tutsi and 85% Hutu. A visit to the genocide museum over the border in Rwanda is a telling reminder of where this can lead.

The Minister mentioned the importance of democracy, the rule of law and human rights in relation to the coming sanctions. It is questionable whether that is accepted in the country itself. Since independence from Belgium in 1962, Burundi has been governed as a presidential democratic republic. Its first elected President was assassinated in 1993. Since then, some 200,000 Burundians have perished in ethnic violence and hundreds of thousands more have become internally displaced or refugees. Human rights abuses abound. President Ndayishimiye, in office since mid-2020, claims to have made policy changes to provide the opposition with political space and to mend relations with the international community. This assertion is challenged by the leader of the opposition, Mr Rwasa, who says that there have been no changes, with opposition meetings banned and the President himself stating that there is no room for opposition. Democracy, the rule of law and human rights seem to be way down the agenda.

I recall speaking at a conference on aid effectiveness in Maputo, Mozambique, and being heckled from the audience. It turned out to be two Burundian MPs. They were complaining loudly that the UK had withdrawn all financial aid from Burundi, which was then about $20 million a year, and replaced it with technical assistance in its Treasury. In fact, a Burundian Vice-President told me later that it was the best thing we ever did. He said the taxes collected through the revenue officials the UK trained were four times greater than the cancelled aid. In his reply, can the Minister say what, if any, changes have been made to the sanctions regime in recognition of the change of leadership in Burundi? What is the current situation regarding aid for Burundi?

Similarly, in Guinea, what impact have the changes in the leadership had on the sanctions regime? With the collapse of France’s Fourth Republic, Guinea was the only colony in France’s African empire to take the harsh option of immediate independence without transitional support, rather than joining the French community of nations created by de Gaulle. In 1958, France abruptly left Guinea, taking with it everything it could move. The incoming President, Ahmed Sékou Touré, swept to power and introduced a centralised Marxist socialist regime. A third of the population fled the country. Those who remained suffered the privations of a failing state—hyperinflation, food shortages, starvation and riots. Sékou Touré called for help, first from the Russians and then the Chinese.

Guinea is potentially an incredibly wealthy country in terms of natural and mineral resources. It has up to one half of the world’s bauxite reserves and a large deposit of high-grade iron ore. In parallel with failed economic policies and state-sponsored drug smuggling, a series of brutal dictatorships have enforced control through murder, human rights abuses and imprisonment. My client at the time, the Minister of Public Works, was imprisoned by the President and starved, eventually to death. The 2009 violent outbreak was just one of many such incidents. In January this year, the French-Israeli mining tycoon, Beny Steinmetz, was sentenced in a Swiss court to five years in jail, guilty of corruption by bribing the late President Conté’s fourth wife, Mamadie, with $10 million to persuade the President to transfer the Simandou iron ore concession to Steinmetz for $170 million. Steinmetz later sold on a 51% share for $250 billion. Is the Minister confident that the sanctions delivered under these SIs are sufficient to tackle this level of extreme corruption?

Lord Northbrook Portrait Lord Northbrook (Con) [V]
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My Lords, I will confine my remarks to the unauthorised drilling activities in the eastern Mediterranean regulations. I declare my interest as co-chair of the All-Party Parliamentary Group for the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus—the TRNC.

By way of background to this statutory instrument, since 2006 Europe has increasingly viewed eastern Mediterranean gas as a resource with huge potential to provide economic growth, mitigate climate change and reduce dependence on Russian gas supplies. European companies have been involved in gas exploration while the European Union has largely supported the idea of a new pipeline that connects Israeli and Egyptian fields with Cyprus and mainland Europe. However, things might be changing. As there is an oversupply of non-Russian liquefied natural gas—LNG—the importance of Mediterranean gas is waning for Europe. Eastern Mediterranean gas is also providing a massive headache, with rival claims by Turkey, Greece and Cyprus on exclusive economic zones—EEZs—and exploration rights. In this short contribution I want to focus on Cyprus. Gas production would be a veritable boon for the cash-poor island.

EEZs are not easy. Greece is one of the signatories to the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea, UNCLOS. This designates a country’s EEZ as extending 200 miles from its shores. Yet regional powers, Turkey, Israel and Syria, have not signed UNCLOS and do not accept its rulings on EEZs. Lebanon disputes its maritime border with Israel, which it claims was compromised by Israel’s bilateral agreement with the Republic of Cyprus. Turkey argues that Cyprus is entitled to only a 12-mile EEZ until it reaches a resolution on the island’s status, and claims that the TRNC has the right to explore in Greek Cypriot waters. The TRNC believes that the gas resources belong to the whole island and that the north should have its share—a view that I do not feel is unreasonable.

Turkey, as an ally of the TRNC, has deployed exploration and drilling ships to Greek Cypriot waters and sent naval vessels there as well. As a result, the development of gas in these disputed waters has been frozen. Indeed, the tensions between Greece and Turkey over the issue became extremely high last year. Conflict was only narrowly averted and cannot be ruled out in the future. As a guarantor power in Cyprus, I would have hoped that the UK might take a more circumspect view on the gas issue. Now that we have left the EU, this seems a good opportunity to think more outside the box. Instead, we seem to be blindly copying EU regulations, without instead trying to fold the issue into revived Cyprus peace talks.

The failure of these peace talks at Crans-Montana in 2017, despite a major effort by former TRNC President Akıncı, was a great disappointment, especially as the TRNC went out of its way to make concessions, some of which alarmed mainland Turkey to such an extent that it did not want him to have another term. As these bi-zonal, bi-federal talks have failed, the new TRNC President Tatar—rightly, in my view—believes that a two-state solution is the only answer. According to the island-neutral Cyprus Mail, it is reported that, in private, President Anastasiades of the Republic of Cyprus is keen on the idea. The Cyprus Mail’s recent article stated that a section of the population of the Republic of Cyprus believed that he

“had calculatingly spurned the opportunity of a reasonable settlement at Crans-Montana”

because he really believes in a two-state solution.

With regard to the UK’s relationship with the TRNC, I welcome the recent meeting between our Foreign Secretary and President Tatar. Can the Minister say what came out of these talks? After Brexit there are good trade opportunities. As an interim measure, could the UK copy our Taiwan policy, whereby we have a trade office in Taipei, which is very successful, even though we do not have diplomatic relations?

A recent press release from the TRNC President sums up the opportunities well. He said the Turkish Cypriot side desires a win-win situation on Cyprus and believes that solving the decades-long Cyprus problem would help reinstate stability in the eastern Mediterranean. He also said that we should see what ideas and proposals the British diplomats bring to the table. He pointed out that he had also raised the issue of strengthening bilateral relations and commercial ties with the UK now that it had left the EU. Tatar also expressed concerns regarding the opening of certain parts of the British bases for non-military development. Can the Minister write to me on this?

I also ask the Minister, who is so well regarded in this House and has such expertise on FCO issues, when the UN Secretary-General’s 5+1 informal talks convene, will the FCO look at reality and the long-standing deadlock to realise that a two-state solution is the only answer and that the gas situation should be part of these talks, rather than just reinstating this unhelpful statutory instrument?

Baroness Ritchie of Downpatrick Portrait Baroness Ritchie of Downpatrick (Non-Afl) [V]
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My Lords, I thank the Minister for his explanation of these statutory instruments. I support sanctions as long as they are compliant with human rights legislation. Exiting the EU means that the UK is now responsible for the legal framework within which the UK may impose, update and lift sanctions, whether autonomously or in line with United Nations obligations. Therefore, I ask the Minister: what is the relationship now with the EU in relation to the sanctions regime? Will there be continued co-operation in an effort to address those areas globally which are flagrant abusers of human rights and are involved in money racketeering, paramilitary activity and corruption—often involving death?

I believe it is a desired objective of your Lordships’ House to address issues to deal with money laundering on an international scale and how it can be accompanied on many occasions by those human rights abuses. We definitely need a sound global sanctions scheme whereby the rule of law, democratic accountability and the proper and ethical use of state funds are the very kernels of our foreign policy.

Those who abuse human rights, attack civilians—whether in Nicaragua, Burundi or Guinea—threaten democracy, the rule of law and the rights and freedoms of civil society, or use corruption, torture and murder to further their own ends have no safe haven for themselves or their dirty money here in the UK, the overseas territories or, in fact, in any part of the world.

I note that the regulations date from 1 January 2021. Since these regulations were debated only last week in the other place and today in your Lordships’ House, what actual legislation covered the last five weeks? Could the Minister provide assurances that the UK Government were covered in terms of sanctions against these countries, where, in some instances, there have been significant abuses of regulations and human rights issues over the last number of years?

I would like to concentrate on two areas. I noticed in doing some research for this debate that there were regulations on Burma—or Myanmar—but they are not mentioned. The other area missing from this list which I believe needs to be covered is that of the Uighurs and China.

In relation to Burma, in particular, the coup d’état that took place last week and the—shall we say—unlawful imprisonment of the leadership there, could the Minister outline what consideration the Government have given to introducing sanctions on members of the Burmese military linked to human rights abuses and the recent coup d’état in Myanmar? What assessment have they made of the coup d’état which took place on 2 February and its potential impact on the rights of the country’s religious and ethnic minorities and the process of democratisation in Myanmar?

In relation to China, what further sanctions will the Government take against the human rights abuses and acts of genocide against the Uighur community? Will there be separate legislation on this matter? I believe that what has happened there is also a violation of human rights, and sanctions should be in place.

Therefore, what actions will the UK Government take at the UN Security Council and the Human Rights Council against human rights violations in those countries and to ensure adherence to democratic standards? What representations will they make to the International Court of Justice regarding such violations of human rights?

I hope that the Government will work with the EU, NATO and the UN, along with the new political dispensation in the USA, against human rights abuses and to ensure that democratic standards are upheld. While supporting the sanctions that will be in place as per the statutory instruments—as long as they comply with human rights legislation—I ask that further consideration is given to Burma, and to China and the Uighurs.

Lord Foulkes of Cumnock Portrait Lord Foulkes of Cumnock (Lab Co-op) [V]
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My Lords, I first raise a couple of procedural points. As the noble Baroness, Lady Ritchie, just said, we are considering regulations weeks after they came into force on 1 January. This makes a mockery of parliamentary scrutiny, and I hope that the Government will look into this so that it does not continue to happen as it has so frequently. Secondly, I raise the way in which this hybrid Grand Committee unfortunately makes it impossible to properly question and challenge the Minister. If we were in the Moses Room, we could intervene on the Minister, ask questions and seek assurances, particularly during the reply, but we are unable to do so properly today. I blame no one for this, least of all the Minister, but it illustrates how important it is that we get back to our normal procedures as soon as it is safe to do so.

Turning to the SIs, I want to deal in particular with the No. 4 regulations, which grant an exception for activities carried out under a licence granted by the overseas territories and Crown dependencies. This causes me great concern and I seek assurances from the Minister on this. But I first point out that these sanctions apply to financial measures, including asset freezes, as well as to trade sanctions and travel bans for key people in the regime. As the Minister explained, among the countries included are Russia, Belarus and Myanmar—formerly Burma. These are currently of the greatest concern and where sanctions are vital to show our concern at the unlawful imprisonment of Alexei Navalny in Russia—as we did previously with the annexation of Crimea and the poisoning of Skripal—and at the unlawful imprisonment of so many people in Belarus, which I am particularly concerned about. We want also to protest and have sanctions in relation to the military coup in Myanmar, as the noble Baroness, Lady Ritchie, and others have said.

While I have some reservations about the determination of the UK Government to take really powerful and effective sanctions, at least we have the capabilities to do so and an effective Opposition to keep up the pressure—whereas I have serious doubts about both the willingness and the capability of some of the overseas territories and Crown dependencies to do so.

Many years ago, when I was an opposition spokesman on foreign affairs in the Commons, I agreed with the then Minister that we should suspend the constitution of the Turks and Caicos Islands because of financial irregularities there. Incidentally, this was done again some years later. We also know that the TCI, British Virgin Islands, Cayman Islands and Channel Islands are used regularly by people, including some from the countries listed, to set up bogus companies and to carry out and cover up illicit activities. The Governments in some of these territories do not have the financial or legal infrastructure to enforce sanctions, and they often turn a blind eye to, or are even tempted to encourage, the avoidance of sanctions.

We need clear assurances from the Minister, and I hope he will give them to us. First, what assurances have been sought, and received, that each territory will rigorously enforce sanctions—at the very least in the same way as we do it here in the United Kingdom? Is he satisfied with these assurances? Secondly, what confidence does he have that each territory has the infrastructure in financial supervision, legal checks and procedures for prosecution necessary for enforcement, and what help has been offered to those territories which are not properly equipped?

We will have to trust the Minister to answer all these questions in his reply, since we will not be able to properly or effectively intervene if he fails to do so, notwithstanding the opportunities that we do have. But if he does not provide satisfactory assurances, we will need to find other ways to ensure that they are answered and to pursue the matter further. I otherwise support the regulations.

Lord Dodds of Duncairn Portrait Lord Dodds of Duncairn (DUP) [V]
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My Lords, I thank the Minister for the clear way in which he outlined the purpose of these pieces of delegated legislation. From 1 January this year, the United Kingdom is responsible for its own sanctions policy, which is given statutory force by the 2018 Act, under which these regulations are made. I trust that these new-found freedoms will give the United Kingdom the flexibility and authority to respond using sanctions quickly and effectively where required. It certainly means that, in future, sanctions can be decided independently by the United Kingdom without having to await an EU-wide response. Sanctions clearly work best when they are implemented in tandem with other countries and it is important that we maintain a shared co-ordination with our partners as much as possible. In all circumstances, the legislation and these statutory instruments provide an opportunity for the Government to take effective, swift action against corruption, abuse of power, human rights violations and hostile or aggressive actions aimed at undermining our national security.

I have no issue with the list before the Committee this afternoon of regulations dealing with individual countries. There are good reasons for each them. I particularly welcome the cyber sanctions regulations, dealing with the prevention of cyber activity that undermines our national security or that of other places across the world. This is a growing area of concern. These attacks are becoming more intense and sophisticated; our own Parliament has been subjected to such an attack in recent times. It is important that effective sanctions are in place to counter the threat of such attacks and that we demonstrate that there will be real-world consequences for countries or individuals who engage in this kind of pernicious activity.

I also welcome the misappropriation sanctions regulations, which are about corruption and the misappropriation of state funds. While the regulations today refer mainly to Tunisia, Egypt and Korea, this new thematic approach is the right one. It provides a great deal of flexibility in responding to this challenge. The cost of corruption worldwide is estimated to be more than 2% of global GDP—a staggering figure. Anything that can deter the mass thieving, often but not exclusively from the world’s poorest countries, is to be welcomed.

On sanctions more widely, I would like to press the Government on a number of areas. What more can be done to combat the Putin regime in Russia? Under him, the Russian state has, sadly, become more and more lawless, both domestically and in its aggression abroad. We have seen the outrageous treatment of Alexei Navalny, which is symptomatic of the way in which any dissent is dealt with under this authoritarian regime, with its gross violations of human rights. The UK has been the subject of attack by Russia and is now in a position to take more effective action against the Russian regime and those with close links to it. How will that become evident?

Recent events in Hong Kong have seen China try blatantly to stamp out the flickering light of freedom of speech and democracy in all its forms. The treatment of the Uighur minority has been utterly appalling. These are but two examples—many more could be related. Can the Government indicate what more can be done to ensure that China is held to account?

Recent events in Myanmar have also been mentioned. The actions of the military there represent a massive backward step for democracy in that country. While all was not well under the previous democratically elected regime, the setting aside of the election results in such a draconian way surely demands the most robust response.

Then there is Libya, where the Government have frozen assets from the previous Gaddafi regime. The Government will be well aware of the campaign to call Libya to account for its support for IRA terrorism in Northern Ireland and its supply of illicit weaponry, including deadly Semtex, which resulted in the murder of, and injury to, thousands of innocent people. Will the Government elaborate further on the action that they will take to ensure that the assets that are currently frozen in this country can be used to provide compensation to the innocent victims of Libya-sponsored IRA terrorism in Northern Ireland and across the United Kingdom? This Government, and previous ones, have looked at this issue, but action seems to be in short supply. There are over £12 billion of Gaddafi assets frozen here. Last year, £17 million was raised in tax from these assets. Surely some of this could be used to pay the victims of Libya-sponsored terrorism. Will the Government commit to publishing the Shawcross report into this whole area? The Government had it last May, but various reasons have been rolled out for non-publication. Will the Government now move to publish it? Victims have had enough of procrastination and prevarication. I look forward to the Minister’s reply to this and to other issues raised by noble Lords.

Lord Bourne of Aberystwyth Portrait Lord Bourne of Aberystwyth (Con) [V]
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My Lords, I declare my interests, as published in the register, particularly as president of Remembering Srebenica. It is a great pleasure to follow the noble Lord, Lord Dodds of Duncairn; I agree very much with his points about the importance of cybersecurity. I thank my noble friend for setting out the background to this suite of regulations. I support what has been said in general about the need for these effective sanctions regimes. I emphasise in particular the importance of the Bosnia and Herzegovina (Sanctions) (EU Exit) Regulations 2020. I welcome what the Minister said about stability and continuity. I note that he also committed to the regimes being substantially the same going forward. Will he enlarge on that point? In what way will the regulations in relation to Bosnia and Herzegovina differ—if at all—from the previous ones? The substantial point seems to indicate that they will differ in some way.

It is timely that these regulations are launched this week. At the end of last week there was, with ministerial support, a cross-party launch of the Remembering Srebenica memorial week theme for this year, “Rebuilding Lives”. This is a reflection of the importance of memorial week in July. This year we commemorate 26 years since the dreadful genocide perpetrated on Bosnian Muslims at Srebenica and widely throughout Bosnia-Herzegovina.

I trust that my noble friend will feel able to reiterate the United Kingdom’s commitment to the Dayton peace accords which followed the war and which the late Lord Ashdown did so much to cement. The Minister referred to them in his introduction, but this bears reiterating. I ask my noble friend to restate the commitment to the settlement and territorial integrity of Bosnia-Herzegovina. Some 25 years after the dreadful genocide, the scars on that beautiful country are still very present and tensions are inevitably heightened by the spurious appeal made by Ratko Mladić in August last year against his conviction for genocide at The Hague. The outcome is expected in May this year. That provocative appeal slows the process of reconciliation and makes it more difficult.

The United Kingdom has many close ties with Bosnia-Herzegovina, helped by two excellent ambassadors—the Bosnia-Herzegovina ambassador here, Vanya Filipović, and the UK ambassador to Bosnia-Herzegovina in Sarajevo, Matt Field—as well as strong parliamentary activity, with all-party groups for Bosnia-Herzegovina, for remembering Srebenica and against genocide, all helping to build a better future by supporting that country.

Can my noble friend tell us when the guidance on prohibitions and requirements previewed by the Explanatory Memorandum will be published? It is important for people to be aware of how it will operate. Will he please also say, as called for by the noble Baroness, Lady Ritchie, what joint action on sanctions we will be taking alongside the EU? Will we be working with our EU partners, continuing to co-operate on sanctions regimes, or do we intend to do something different and strike out on our own? I am not quite clear on the long-term position. Clearly, in the short term, there will not be a massive difference. I appreciate that it allows us some freedom for manoeuvre, but how will that operate within working with our allies? That will also apply to other like-minded states. I think, in the case of Bosnia-Herzegovina, of the United States, which has a particular significance given the Dayton peace accords and their role in bringing the war in Bosnia to a conclusion.

With those comments, I lend my support to the regulations. I agree with the noble Lord, Lord Foulkes, that it is undesirable that we are looking at them in the rear-view mirror. It would be far better if we did not have to do that and could consider them in a more timely way. I appreciate that, on some matters Covid-related, that is not always possible, but I cannot see that that excuse—that reason, perhaps I should say—operates here.

Lord Oates Portrait Lord Oates (LD)
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My Lords, I declare my interest as the co-chair of the All-Party Parliamentary Group for Zimbabwe and, in doing so, I thank the Minister for Africa, James Duddridge for his courtesy in briefing me ahead of last week’s statement on the imposition of specific measures against four Zimbabwe security sector chiefs.

On the detail of the No. 4 regulations, I should be grateful if the Minister could clarify the effect of the power to disapply the relevant prohibitions of the UK sanctions regime in Crown dependencies and British Overseas Territories, if conduct that would otherwise be prohibited is authorised by a licence issued under the law of those jurisdictions. The Explanatory Memorandum sets out that those provisions are necessary to ensure that prohibitions relating to UK persons do not create a double licensing burden on a UK person in the overseas territories and Crown dependencies. Can the Minister assure us, however, that the power to authorise conduct that would otherwise be a contravention of the sanctions regime is operable only where an equivalent prohibition applies under other law—that is, that this is to be used only to prevent double licensing and that it cannot be used by the Crown dependencies or overseas territories to circumvent the application of sanctions?

As we discuss these SIs, it is timely to consider the effectiveness of the sanctions regime that we have operated over the past few decades and how we will take it forward now that we have left the European Union. I see this principally through the lens of the targeted measures we have applied against Zimbabwean politicians, officials and military over the past two decades. In themselves, they are hard to argue with. Who would want gross violators of human rights to be able to travel freely or to make use of UK financial institutions to launder the money that they loot from their people?

There is no doubt that sanctions can be an effective tool as part of wider political, economic and diplomatic approaches, but too often, it seems, they are deployed not as part of a wider strategy but instead of one. Nowhere could that be clearer than in Zimbabwe. In the 32 years since I first went to teach in Zimbabwe and the 22 years since I spent a couple of years working in the first post-apartheid South African Parliament, I have watched with dismay as the UK has squandered its influence in the region and as other players—most notably China, of course, but also some of our European allies—have taken a much more strategic approach.

In his statement accompanying the most recent travel restrictions and financial measures against Zimbabwe security sector chiefs, the Foreign Secretary stated that the Zimbabwe sanctions regime

“seeks to encourage the Government of Zimbabwe to respect democratic principles and institutions; refrain from the repression of civil society; and to comply with international human rights law and to respect human rights.”

If that has been the objective of the sanctions regime over the past two years, who can claim that it has been anything but an abject failure? The political and economic crisis in Zimbabwe is as great as it has ever been, the economy has been looted to a state of collapse, corruption is rampant, the rule of law is practically non-existent and gross human rights abuses are routine.

Today, journalists such as Hopewell Chin’ono, who expose corruption, are constantly harassed and regularly imprisoned, while the Ministers they expose walk free. Trade unionists, opposition MPs and activists are abducted, beaten, tortured and then jailed for daring to speak out. As we speak, MDC youth leaders Joana Mamombe and Cecilia Chimbiri languish in the notorious Chikurubi maximum security jail on trumped-up charges, simply for speaking out for a better life for the people of Zimbabwe. The courage and integrity of these individuals cannot be overstated and is testimony to the country that Zimbabwe can become again.

Fundamentally, change in Zimbabwe will come about as a result of the actions of the Zimbabwean people, but we could play a much more constructive role in supporting the rule of law, the restoration of constitutional government and a return to economic prosperity if, instead of signing the latest sanctions regulations and then complacently turning to other matters, we committed to a joined-up economic and political strategy that could give succour to the valiant Zimbabwe people that when they achieve change, their friends in the international community will be there to help them with a comprehensive support package, so that everybody in the region and around the world can see the dividends that democratic government and the rule of law bring.

By all means, let us have sanctions against individuals who brutalise their fellow citizens and loot their country, but let us not pretend that they can deliver a return to democratic norms in the absence of a long-term and creative strategy for democratic renewal in the region. We could start by putting together an internationally agreed Marshall plan, ready to be implemented as soon as constitutional government returns to Zimbabwe. That would offer hope to the people of Zimbabwe as they continue their heroic struggle for freedom.

Lord Empey Portrait Lord Empey (UUP) [V]
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My Lords, I ask my noble friend what assessment is undertaken of our sanctions policy in each specific case. We have a list before us today, but of course it is not complete. As referred to by the noble Lord, Lord Oates, a point can come when we become blasé—we apply sanctions and then sit back, feeling that we have done our duty. It is their outworking and the effectiveness of that policy that is critical. I also ask my noble friend: what is the mechanism for co-ordination with the European Union? Lots of our sanctions are done in tandem with it and, indeed, under specific EU laws. Therefore, I would like to know what the mechanism is. Is it haphazard and case by case, or is there something more formally established?

The Minister alluded to the United Kingdom being held in worldwide regard because of our adherence to sanctions and willingness to implement them. However, he may have heard a recent interview with the new chairman of the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations in the United States, Senator Menendez. According to him, London was awash with Russian money, which Russians were able to dispose of through the purchase of assets, damaging our international credibility and reputation. Does the Minister consider that our policy there needs to be looked at? If, on the one hand, we are saying that we have an international reputation but, on the other, the newly appointed chairman of the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations, at the start of a new presidential term, believes that about our actions with regard to Russian money coming into this country, it is not a very good starting point. I should like the Minister to address that matter.

The other issue I want to raise, Libya, will come as no surprise to the Minister. The noble Lord, Lord Dodds, raised it and the Minister’s attention was drawn to it earlier today in an Oral Question, to which, I suspect, many of us wished to contribute but did not get the opportunity. My noble friend will be aware that, on two separate occasions, I brought a Private Member’s Bill on asset freezing to your Lordships’ House. It was passed on both occasions, but one ran out of time and the other was blocked in the other place, so it did not become law. However, its purpose was to draw attention to the matters that the noble Lord, Lord Dodds, raised earlier.

It is almost the 25th anniversary of the Canary Wharf bombing. That attack was possible only because of the provision of Libyan-supplied Semtex to the IRA. I am a member of the parliamentary support group for the victims of Libyan terrorism. We had a meeting with the North Africa Minister, James Cleverly, on 5 November. We have been anxiously awaiting news, particularly on the Shawcross report, but also as to whether the Government are really prepared to do anything about this. A recent reply the other day merely stated that the Government were looking at it and consulting on a cross-departmental basis. Of course, that is a necessary part of government, but this is going well into its third decade. People are ageing, some have died and some are still suffering. I appeal to my noble friend to pass that point on to his colleague.

Key to the principles behind our policy is whether it is being successful. Are our sanctions working? Do we have examples of where they have brought about an improvement in the policy and in those individuals and countries subject to them? If not, we will be doing something simply for the sake of it. Is any real substance being achieved? If not, will it be achieved by some other mechanism? In broad terms I support what we have before us, but it is only part of the picture. In some respects, the matters I have raised are missing from this because it is part of an overall government policy. I would appreciate a response in the Minister’s reply.

Lord Balfe Portrait Lord Balfe (Con)
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My Lords, I should make it clear that I hold office in the TRNC All-Party Group and have been a fairly regular visitor to north Cyprus over a long period. It is always nice to give the Government a pat on the back, but people have grumbled about the length of time before these regulations were debated. I have raised this and I am satisfied with the reply that the Government made the regulations on 7 December, brought them partially into force from 14 December, and fully into force from the end of the transition period on 31 December. They then had 60 sitting days for the regulations to come before both Houses under the affirmative procedure. The Government are fully within their rights in what they are doing. They are not always, but on this occasion they are.

When I look at these regulations I wonder: what are they actually worth? What will they achieve? The noble Lord, Lord Empey, mentioned that it is 30 years since the Libya atrocities. It is 46 years since the breakdown in Cyprus. Indeed, it goes back almost 60 years to the foundation of the state. I am not sure whether this will bring us any further forward. We say that the regulations are to

“discourage … hydrocarbon exploration, production or extraction activities which have not been authorised by the Republic of Cyprus in its territorial sea or in its exclusive economic zone”,

but that is exactly what the dispute is about: the economic zone and whether the Republic of Cyprus, in the eyes of the Government of the TRNC, can allocate drilling rights across what the Northern Cyprus Administration feel is an important part of its area.

In other words, until we get the Cyprus problem sorted out, this will be just a minor sideshow. It is one of many, but the fact is that the previous President, President Akıncı, put in a huge amount of work. If anyone was ever to get a solution, it was him. He was the mayor of Nicosia, or Lefkoşa as the Turkish call it. He was the one politician from the north who had good relations with people in the south. He went a huge amount of the way to get a UN agreement and he failed. The Turks thought that he went too far and effectively campaigned against him in the recent election.

Now we have President Tatar, who has something in common with the UK. Nobody really wanted what he was offering a few years ago: a completely new start in Cyprus. He said that the whole basis of UN negotiations was false and that they would not work. He has now put forward the two-state solution, which has always been on the back boiler in Northern Cyprus. I urge Her Majesty’s Government to take a very close look at it. We cannot carry on as one of the guarantor powers, pretending that we have nothing to do with it and that all we have to do is say, “Naughty north Cyprus, you don’t exist”. I quote a Written Answer that came out only last week:

“The United Kingdom does not recognise the self-declared ‘Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus’.”

Hard luck: I am afraid it is there and not doing too badly, actually. It could do much better if we get an agreement, but it is there and it exists.

I want to ask the Minister this: what is the purpose of the sanctions? Will they ever be applied to anyone at all? Can he tell me any individuals or entities they apply to, or that the Government are looking to apply them to? Who at present is, and what sort of people are, being fingered for these sanctions, or will they be a dead letter? The explanatory statement says:

“Sanctions can be used to change behaviour”,

but they have not done very well over the past 46 years. I wonder whether they are changing or reinforcing behaviour, because every time I go to Cyprus I notice a little more hardening of actions and views, a little more intransigence, and a few more people who do not remember a united island and who think that the status quo is quite acceptable if they can negotiate a few more changes at the margin to make it slightly easier to live with.

Will Her Majesty’s Government take a more proactive role than just sitting around, as they have done throughout our membership of the EU, saying, “We hope something turns up. We really want it to, but we don’t know what to do”? I am afraid that is what it has seemed like up to now.

Lord Truscott Portrait Lord Truscott (Ind Lab) [V]
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My Lords, I will raise the sanctions on unauthorised drilling in the eastern Mediterranean, as mentioned by the noble Lords, Lord Northbrook and Lord Balfe, and then comment on the UK’s broader sanctions policy.

Turkey’s unauthorised drilling in Greek and Cypriot waters is a cause for concern and it is right that Her Majesty’s Government should align themselves with the EU’s position to give Ankara pause for thought. The EU agreed back in December to condemn Turkey’s aggressiveness and unilateral actions in the eastern Mediterranean, giving Turkey a three-month grace period for further diplomacy. It agreed to add new names of individuals and companies connected with unauthorised and provocative drilling off Cyprus to a sanctions list involving travel bans and asset freezes.

This is a dangerous, complicated and underreported crisis, not least because both Greece and Turkey are members of NATO, there are two strategically important British sovereign bases on Cyprus, the position of Cyprus and Greece as EU members, and Turkey’s status as a candidate for European Union membership. Ankara also has a pivotal role in restricting the flow of migrants, primarily from Libya and Syria, into the EU.

Turkey’s President Erdoğan unhelpfully reignited tensions with Cyprus last November, calling for a two-state solution for the island, divided since 1974, rather than the federalist solution supported by both the EU and UN. However, I am glad that the EU rejected Athens’ proposal last August at the Berlin foreign affairs meeting for sectoral sanctions targeting aspects of the Turkish economy such as the energy and banking sectors.

Here, I want to turn to the general principle of sanctions. While targeted sanctions against individuals or companies can have the desired effect in support of human rights or to correct serious misbehaviour or provocation, sectoral or country-wide sanctions are often counterproductive or have unintended consequences. President Erdoğan’s purchase of Russian S-400 anti-aircraft systems is at least in part because of his belief in the West’s complicity in the 2016 coup attempt against him. While the West and the US were silent, Moscow was effusive in its support. The proposed new US sanctions against Ankara for buying the S-400s will merely throw Erdoğan further into Russia’s embrace.

I commend to the Minister the work of the highly-respected US Brookings Institution on the impact and effectiveness of sanctions. In one of its reports, it said that

“all too often sanctions turn out to be little more than expressions of U.S. preferences … without changing the target’s behavior for the better.”

It points to sanctions’ patchy results, which, as I mentioned, can lead to unintended consequences. The report further outlined:

“More generally, sanctions can have the perverse effect of bolstering authoritarian, statist societies.”

Making the population at large suffer can lead just to the propping up of a regime and a bunker mentality. On the other hand, targeted sanctions against individuals, companies or types of equipment or technology can have a real impact. Finally, the Brookings Institution states:

“Sanctions should not be used to hold major or complex bilateral relationships hostage to a single issue or set of concerns.”

Will the Minister admit that this is why HMG have imposed sanctions on Guinea for the indefensible death of 150 people in 2009 but have held back on sanctions against China for the alleged enslavement and internment of hundreds of thousands of Uighurs, as mentioned by the noble Baroness, Lady Ritchie, and the noble Lord, Lord Dodds?

We have just had a brief discussion about the effectiveness of sanctions, as raised by the noble Lords, Lord Empey and Lord Balfe, but can HMG have consistency in its sanctions policy? None of the 40 countries sanctioned is a friend. We have sanctioned Nicaragua for human rights abuses but not Honduras, Guatemala, El Salvador or Panama, which are arguably as bad if not worse. Having read through the 555-page UK sanctions list, I could not identify a single individual from the Middle East outside Syria, Iraq or Iran condemned for any human rights abuses. James Cleverly, the Minister for the Middle East and North Africa, said in the other place on 3 February:

“Our sanctions regime is the foundation for an independent sanctions policy in support of our foreign policy and national security interests”.—[Official Report, Commons, 3/2/21; col. 976.]

Yet sanctions should be the last resort of diplomacy, not the first resort that they have often become; nor should we end up using sanctions to impose our British world view rather than to uphold universal values such as human rights and the right to life itself.

Baroness Northover Portrait Baroness Northover (LD)
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I thank the Minister for laying these sanctions provisions before us. From these Benches, we support them—as far as they go. As he said, most come straight out of the EU regimes.

He rightly pointed out that the United Kingdom played a large part in shaping the EU’s approach. He will know therefore that we regret having left the EU, because sanctions are most effective when applied jointly and because we took a leading role in the EU and have withdrawn that influence. I note, for example, that the EU seems more reluctant than when we were integral to its thinking to place sanctions against Russian individuals in the light of the poisoning of Alexei Navalny and now his imprisonment.

I welcome the sanctions in relation to Bosnia and Herzegovina. We have just marked Holocaust Memorial Day, when we remember not only the Nazi Holocaust but later genocides such as that in Bosnia, to which the noble Lord, Lord Bourne, referred—I thank him for his reference to my noble friend Lord Ashdown. It is encouraging that some programme of reform may be brought to the Balkans as they seek to join the EU recognising its enormous benefits—something which, ironically, we are encouraging.

The pressure of sanctions on Burundi, Guinea and Nicaragua, to encourage respect for democracy, the rule of law and human rights, is important given the ongoing challenges to those, but my noble friend Lord Chidgey challenged us on whether those sanctions were adequate; for example, in Guinea. My noble friend Lord Oates did the same in relation to the effectiveness of sanctions in Zimbabwe. He was surely right that they can be but one tool and that far more extensive engagement is required.

We are becoming acutely aware of how cyberactivities can undermine democratic and economic systems. I am sure the integrated review will address this threat to our country. When is that now expected?

The sanctions relating to the misappropriation of state funds from a country outside the United Kingdom establish a single thematic regime rather than geographic regimes, as the EU specified. As the Minister said, corruption undermines development. Can he update us on how a corruption sanctions regime can now be added, which the Government have said they wish to do? Is he sure that a thematic, rather than geographic, spread will be as effective?

On the sanctions relating unauthorised drilling activities in the eastern Mediterranean, the Minister did not say so in his introduction, but it is very clear from the Explanatory Notes that these relate to the troubling involvement of Turkey in this matter. This area of the world has enough tensions and instability without this becoming a further one. As the Minister said, Cyprus’ oil and gas should be used for the benefit of Cypriots. The involvement here of Turkey is very risky. However, I have some sympathy with the view of the noble Lords, Lord Northbrook and Lord Balfe, that it would have been far better to have achieved a settlement of the Cyprus dispute before it joined the EU. It is therefore vital that all Cypriots, from north or south, should potentially benefit. Our leaving the EU risks making it even more difficult to secure a long-term resolution in Cyprus.

On the miscellaneous amendments regulations, the Minister needs to assure us that we are not deviating from what was agreed when we were in the EU. I am rather sceptical about avoiding an apparent double effect with the Crown dependencies and overseas territories. I do not see any concern about their being covered twice by the same provisions. What is the possible down side of that? Can he assure us that they are indeed fully covered by these regulations? The noble Lord, Lord Foulkes, and my noble friend Lord Oates, expressed their own strong concerns. Funds have often directed through some of those territories. There is a sense of the regulations addressing long-standing problems, but it is clear that they need to be updated.

In terms of updating, we still see no sanctions in relation to the Uighurs. We welcomed the global human rights, or Magnitsky, sanctions. The legal opinion announced this morning that acts being carried out in Xinjiang amount to crimes against humanity and genocide bears this out. The Minister will not say whether the Government are considering such sanctions, but we are all watching.

What about going further in Myanmar in the light of the military coup there? The noble Baroness, Lady Ritchie, and others asked about that. What of Ethiopia and Tigray now? I ask the Minister, as I have before: can there be some independent assessment of what sanctions need to be applied, and where? A number of noble Lords have questioned their direction and effectiveness.

In the previous session that we had on arrangements carried over from the EU it turned out that on some conflict minerals, for example, the UK had failed to put in place all that was required in Northern Ireland, as it sat within the EU single market and customs union. Has that now been rectified and have we adequately addressed the different position of Northern Ireland here? I look forward to the Minister’s reply.

Lord Collins of Highbury Portrait Lord Collins of Highbury (Lab)
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My Lords, we welcome these instruments, intended primarily to roll over the EU sanctions regimes into UK legislation. Last Wednesday in the other place, my honourable friend Stephen Doughty covered the Opposition’s position on each of the individual country sanctions in some detail. Due to the limited time, I do not intend to repeat that exercise. However, there were points that the Minister, James Cleverly, did not cover in his response to my honourable friend.

First, as the Minister has repeatedly stated in the Chamber, the strength of sanctions depends on a unified framework across multiple jurisdictions—a point highlighted by noble Lords today. The EU and the US work together co-operatively to secure the applicability of measures, and the UK must be part of that process. In his introduction, the Minister said that the UK would be using existing networks. Just how will this work? How will we ensure that, along with the EU, we have a unified approach? Like the noble Lord, Lord Empey, I would like to know exactly what mechanisms will be used.

The second set of miscellaneous regulations deal with issues relating to the overseas territories. Here, I strongly amplify the point made by my noble friend Lord Foulkes and the noble Lord, Lord Oates, who were absolutely right. I hope that the Minister will explain the mechanisms for overseas territories and the sanctions regimes. Whether it is done by Order in Council or another mechanism, it would be good for that to be set out. In the other place James Cleverly made the point, which we have heard this afternoon, that we do not want to see double prohibition through these regulations and therefore a double licensing burden on individuals. However, it is crucial that we ensure that individuals cannot exploit any administrative gaps. James Cleverly failed to answer Stephen Doughty on what support is being provided to the overseas territories to ensure that they can apply the sanctions regimes, and that we have one unified approach across all territories. I hope the Minister will be able to give us much more detail than James Cleverly did in the other place.

Noble Lords have highlighted the discussion on China when these SIs were debated in the other place. As the noble Baroness, Lady Northover, said, press reports today have highlighted a strong legal opinion confirming the overwhelming evidence of systematic human rights abuses, amounting to genocide against the Muslim Uighur people. We have also seen other minorities in China targeted, along with the attacks on the democracy and freedom of the people of Hong Kong. The United States Government have already barred members of the Communist Party of China from the US and introduced Magnitsky-style sanctions, but we have seen no further designations from the UK. We have been pressing for this for some months, so I hope the Minister can assure us that such sanctions are under consideration and say what discussions we are having with our allies, particularly the US, on how we have a unified approach.

The noble Baronesses, Lady Ritchie and Lady Northover, stated that some of these regulations relate to previous sanctions on Myanmar. Many noble Lords will have watched over the weekend the brave demonstrations against the military coup in Myanmar. Last week, I asked the Minister to seek the toughest kind of sanctions by the international community, including on the enterprises owned by the generals and their families. I hope he can update us on what discussions we have had with our allies to ensure we are stepping up sanctions on those responsible for such a brazen attack on the democratic rights of the people of Myanmar.

I also hope the Government will look again at how the UK’s CDC has been investing in telecommunications companies in Myanmar that have been complying with that country’s government-ordered repression and blockages of internet sites. These not only have potentially covered up atrocities against the Rohingya people but are being used now in the military coup. I hope he will look again at that investment and whether it is really appropriate in the current circumstances.

The Government need to do more with the powers they have through the Magnitsky sanctions regime. Expanding their scope and usage is vital. I hope the Minister will be able to give us an update on the timetable to extend the scope of this regime to include corruption. Finally, as I said in my opening, we support these sanctions regulations and agree that they should continue.

Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon Portrait Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon (Con)
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My Lords, I thank all noble Lords for their very valuable contributions and the broad level of support that we saw during this debate. I also recognise the important role of, and the various points made on, the process and procedure. I thank my noble friend Lord Balfe for articulating in a succinct manner—as it saved me having to answer the question—what the current procedures are. However, I never shy away from any challenge in the questions that the noble Lord, Lord Foulkes, always poses most courteously. I look forward to debates on this issue and others with him.

Having thanked all noble Lords for their participation, I will get to the specific questions raised. Following the normal courtesy, if there are questions that I am unable to answer in the time allocated, I will certainly write to noble Lords and review Hansard to pick up on some of those specifics.

Along with his original questions, the noble Lord, Lord Chidgey, raised the importance of his expertise and insights in parts of the world. He raised specific issues about certain individuals in Guinea not being rolled over in the original sanctions tabled by the EU. This will in part also answer the question raised by various noble Lords, including the noble Lord, Lord Empey, and my noble friend Lord Balfe, about the effectiveness of sanctions. When these original sanctions were approved it was partly to ensure that there would be a change in behaviour, while recognising any steps taken by new Governments and individuals within them.

I also reassure noble Lords that when applying the sanctions, through the sanctions Act itself and the subsequent global human rights sanctions regime, we are relatively new to this area in terms of specific sanctions on individuals. The noble Lord, Lord Truscott, recounted specific sanctions on individuals and countries, and mentioned the Middle East. I am sure he will recall that, when it came to the global human rights sanctions, a number of individuals from the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia were covered in the original sanctions designations.

Several noble Lords, including the noble Baroness, Lady Northover, my noble friends Lord Balfe and Lord Northbrook, and the noble Lord, Lord Truscott, raised Cyprus and the sanctions as they apply there. I agree with the noble Baroness on the wider context of the discussions in Cyprus. As noble Lords will recognise, my right honourable friend the Foreign Secretary visited Cyprus on 3 and 4 February. He met the President of Cyprus and the leader of the Turkish Cypriots. The primary focus in the areas covered was on not just the issues in the sanctions—as put forward by many noble Lords, with whom I agree—but bilateral and regional issues ahead of the UN-convened talks, which I believe take place next month. The context of the peace talks was very much part and parcel of the discussions that my right honourable friend had in country. I therefore hope my noble friend is reassured that we are looking at all elements and talking to all sides when it comes to not just the areas covered in the sanctions regime, but the wider issues of settlement. We recognise the important role the UK can play in this regard.

The noble Baroness, Lady Ritchie, and others talked about the importance of our EU partnerships. It did not surprise me when the noble Baroness, Lady Northover, did so in her opening remarks. As I have said, we will of course continue to work very closely with our EU partners and others in this respect. I have said to noble Lords that I regularly have discussions with the lead human rights official in the European Commission, Eamon Gilmore. Indeed, we were in deep discussions prior to the introduction of the EU global human rights regime.

My noble friend Lord Empey raised the formality of structures. I assure him that the strength of our relationships with the European Union and key partners in it is shown in various statements we have made beyond sanctions—particularly on the situation of the Uighur Muslims—which demonstrate the open communication that we retain and, equally, how we work with other key partners on sanctions, such as the United States, Canada and other allies. We will continue to do just that. The primary basis of any sanctions regime is that it is co-ordinated.

The noble Baroness, Lady Ritchie, rightly talked of Myanmar, as did other noble Lords. The noble Baroness, Lady Northover, specifically mentioned the leadership we showed during our membership of the European Union against 16 individuals. As noble Lords will recognise, of the military leadership that has taken control in the coup in Myanmar, the leader and his deputy are currently sanctioned. Whether in Myanmar or in China, which the noble Baronesses, Lady Ritchie and Lady Northover, and the noble Lord, Lord Collins, raised, specifically on the Uighurs, we keep the situation in review.

I cannot get into specifics. Noble Lords rightly raise timelines and when particular designations happen around the world, but I cannot speculate in that respect. However, I assure noble Lords, as I have sought to do as FCDO Minister and Minister for Human Rights, that I will take on board the approach that the noble Lord, Lord Oates, acknowledged of talking through specific situations as and when we can, and as early as possible, as well as sharing information with noble Lords.

The noble Lord, Lord Foulkes, asked about the process, which I have already covered specifically. He also talked about the importance of working with our overseas territories. I assure all noble Lords that the Orders in Council for each designation, with the exception of Bermuda and Gibraltar, are initiated by the United Kingdom. They will reflect exactly the same provisions that apply in UK jurisdictions to allow for a co-ordinated approach. I can also assure the noble Baroness, Lady Northover, as a Minister who worked directly with the overseas territories during the passage of the Sanctions and Anti-Money Laundering Bill, that our co-ordination is for territories that do not have capacity for technical support. The noble Lord, Lord Collins, raised this, and it arose in the other place. We are lending technical support to the overseas territories. I am sure noble Lords recognise that many do not have the infrastructure for financial services, for example, and need support. We are working directly with the OTs in this respect.

I assure the noble Lord, Lord Foulkes, that prior to the introduction of, for example, the requirement for public registers, we also operated with key overseas territories on the exchange of notes, which allowed tax and legal agencies to access all the required information. If any specific concerns arise for noble Lords on the application of these issues in the overseas territories, they should raise them with me. I will seek to address them directly.

I thank the noble Lord, Lord Dodds, for his support. He rightly raised cyberactivity. As he recognised, we saw an increase in such challenges in our own Parliament a few years back. Indeed, I recall that we had a cyberattack on the same day as the tragic terror attack on Parliament. It shows the vulnerabilities, and the increased activity required, in this area. It also underlines the importance we attach to this area of our sanctions work.

The noble Lord rightly raised the Putin regime and issues around Navalny, China and Myanmar. As I am sure he recognises, we have sought to lead and provide direction on sanctions in Myanmar and in the case of Mr Navalny. The noble Lord and my noble friend Lord Empey raised the situation in Libya and the Shawcross report. We discussed this in your Lordships’ House. I have taken note of the concerns that have again been expressed. If there is any more detail on the questions my noble friend Lord Empey raised I shall seek to raise it.

I am being told by my noble friend who is whipping the debate that I am running out of time. In my last few seconds, I acknowledge the valuable work done by Remembering Srebrenica and the points made by my noble friend Lord Bourne. I assure him that we look fully at guaranteeing the sovereign and territorial integrity of Bosnia-Herzegovina. He talked about guidance. I believe that it has already been published.

On the specific area of continuing to work at and ensuring the refreshing of our strategy, I say to all noble Lords who raised the effectiveness of the various regimes that provisions in the sanctions Act require reporting back on the effectiveness of each regime. The Act also allows opportunities for individuals to review sanctions applied to them so that they can have a process for appeal. I will continue to update your Lordships’ House on the operation of the sanctions regimes. Indeed, I look forward to further discussions on specific designations in this important area.

I once again thank all noble Lords for their participation. This work is evolving. I noted again with great care various noble Lords’ specific questions and practical suggestions on strengthening work in this area. I look forward to further debate and constructive discussions in this regard.

Motion agreed.