The UK Parliament Joint Committee on Human Rights (the JCHR, which scrutinises draft legislation on human rights points) has published its report (link here) on the Sanctions Bill. Generally the Committee’s view is that “The UK’s withdrawal from the EU should not result in lower safeguards and unjustified restrictions on rights to due process and remedies; indeed it offers an opportunity to ensure rights are properly protected”. Key concerns expressed in the report:
- Threshold for designations: The JCHR has asked the Government to explain why a lower threshold for designation (reasonable grounds to suspect) than currently under the Terrorist Asset Freezing Act 2010 (TAFA) (reasonable grounds to believe + necessary) is justified.
- Annual reviews of designations: The report recommends annual reviews of designations rather than reviews every three years, having seen no evidence that annual reviews are unsustainable.
- Appeal rights: The JCHR recommends full rights of appeal for designated persons, rather than judicial review.
- Damages: The report considers that the Government had not justified limiting damages awards to cases of bad faith or negligence.
- Closed hearings: The report recommends that the standard of disclosure (requiring at least the gist of allegations to be given to listed people) be made expressly clear in the context of closed hearings.
- Independent Review: The report notes that the Bill removes independent review of terrorism designations currently enshrined in TAFA and recommends its retention.
- Licensing guidance: The JCHR recommends that the publication of guidance on licensing and exemptions should be expedited.
- Magnitsky sanctions: The report supports the Magnitsky amendments to enable sanctions for gross human rights violations.