EU RENEWS BELARUS SANCTIONS

Last year we reported here that the European Union had extended its Belarus sanctions until 31 October 2014.  The Council of the European Union has announced today that it will publish measures tomorrow which extend those measures for another year, until 31 October 2015. According to the press release, this is because “not all political prisoners have been released and rehabilitated, and the respect for human rights, the rule of law and democratic principles has not significantly improved in Belarus.”

The EU first imposed restrictive measures on President Lukashenko and some Belarusian officials in May 2006, by Regulation 765/2006. The sanctions were extended in 2012 and 2013, and consist of an arms embargo, an embargo on equipment for internal repression, and a travel ban and asset freeze on individuals and entities said to be responsible for serious human rights violations, whose activities seriously undermine democracy or the rule of law in Belarus, or who benefit from or support the Lukashenka regime.

Tomorrow’s new measures will de-list 24 people and 7 entities because the EU considers there are no longer grounds for keeping them on the sanctions list.  The press release states that this “does not reflect any change in the EU’s policy towards Belarus … the EU maintains its policy of critical engagement with Belarus, intended to promote the respect for human rights, the rule of law and democratic principles in Belarus.”

EU LIFTS SANCTIONS ON SLOBODAN MILOSEVIC, 8 YEARS AFTER HIS DEATH

The European Union has just lifted sanctions on Mr Milosevic (former President of the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia (FRY)).

In 2000 the EU lifted sanctions on the FRY, with the exception of the provisions directed against Mr Milosevic and persons associated with him, on the basis that they continued to “represent a threat to the consolidation of democracy in the FRY”.  Accordingly, Council Regulation (EC) No 2488/2000 froze funds and other financial resources held outside the FRY belonging to Mr Milosevic and to “natural persons associated with him”.

The European Union has just published Decision 2014/742/CFSP and Regulation 1145/2014 (both of 28 October 2014), which repeal those measures on the basis that “there are no grounds to continue applying those restrictive measures” because Mr Milosevic and associates “no longer represent a threat to the consolidation of democracy”.  Mr Milosevic died in March 2006, 8 years ago.

HM Treasury’s notice, which lists the people to whom these measures no longer apply (published on 29 October 2014) is here.

EU IMPLEMENTS UN AMENDMENTS TO LIBYA SANCTIONS

The United Nations has imposed sanctions on Libya since 2011, and the European Union has implemented those measures, consisting of an arms embargo, a ban on internal repression equipment, and targeted asset freezes and travel bans on “certain persons and entities involved in serious human rights abuses against persons in Libya”.  Some of those people and entities are designated by the UN, and the EU makes its own additions.

The EU last week (21 October 2014) amended its Libya sanctions measures to reflect amendments made by the UN Security Council, by means of Council Decision 2014/727/CFSP, Council Implementing Regulation (EU) No 1103/2014 and Council Regulation (EU) No 1102/2014.  The new measures:

1) Implement in the EU the amendments to the scope of the arms embargo that were made by the UN Security Council on 27 August  2014 (on which see previous blog); and

2) Amend the identifying information relating to 2 people (Mr Dorda and Coloniel Al-Senussi) whose entries were updated by the UN.  A Notice in the Official Journal informs them of the possibility of challenging these measures in the General Court of the EU or submitting a request to the United Nations Focal Point or Council of the EU for reconsideration. HM Treasury’s Notice on the amendments  relating to these people is here.

All EU sanctions measures relating to Libya are on the ‘sanctions in force’ section of this blog.

UN SECURITY COUNCIL DEBATES SANCTIONS, DUE PROCESS & THE OMBUDSPERSON

The United Nations Security Council  held an open debate on the working methods of the Security Council on 23 October 2014.  The issues for debate are set out here in a background letter from the Permanent Representative of Argentina to the UN, addressed to Secretary General.

The Ombudsperson to the UN’s 1267 Sanctions Committee, Kimberly Prost, was invited to brief the Security Council on the counter-terrorist sanctions regime under her mandate and due process, and to make recommendations for enhancing the effectiveness of the regime.  See previous post on the Ombudsperson.  A link to Kimberly Prost’s presentation to the Security Council is here.  She made (in summary) the following points:

1. The Ombudsperson’s remit applies only to one UN sanctions regime, namely the Al-Qaida Sanctions Committee list. There is no rationale for this mechanism being available for one set of individuals facing targeted sanctions but not others. The imposition of targeted sanctions which directly affect the rights of individuals and entities, without the availability of an independent review mechanism which can deliver an effective remedy, is inconsistent with fundamental human rights obligations.  The Focal Point at the UN does not have the characteristics of an independent review mechanism which could serve as an effective remedy.  The introduction of a fair process mechanism at international level will also reduce the number of domestic and regional court challenges, because it will weaken arguments about fundamental unfairness in the system.

2. As regards the Al Qaida terrorist sanctions regime, the Ombudsperson recommended that reasons should be given for decisions as to whether to de-list or not, since a reasoned decision is what distinguishes a fair process from an arbitrary one.  She noted the current reluctance to provide factual detail in the reasons, which would enhance the credibility and strength of regime.

3. There should be institutional safeguards in order to secure the Office of the Ombudsperson and its independence, which presently exist only because of the good will of those within that office and the secretariat.

The informal group of “Like-Minded States” on targeted sanctions (Austria, Belgium, Costa Rica, Denmark, Finland, Germany, Lichtenstein, the Netherlands, Sweden, Switzerland and Norway) also made a statement, saying that considerable due process concerns persist, and re-inviting the Security Council and Member States to consider the proposals it had submitted on 17 April 2014.

Those proposals were (in summary): (a) to make the office of Ombudsperson permanent; (b) enhanced information sharing between Member States and the Ombudsperson, and between the Sanctions Committee, Member States, national and regional courts, and other authorities; (c) to enhance transparency and publish reasons for decisions, including for continued designations (allowing for legitimate privacy, security and confidentiality interests to be protected); (d) for the Sanctions Committee to continue to conduct triennial reviews in a timely and thorough manner and regularly inform Member States of the results; (e) for listings to be automatically deleted if not reviewed and confirmed within 3 years; (f) to give the Ombudsperson authority to decide whether to maintain or discontinue a listing, and ask Member States and international bodies to encourage individuals or entities that seek de-listing to go to the Ombudsperson first before going to court; (g) to extend the Ombudsperson’s remit to other regimes; (h) to ensure that a listed entity or individual is adequately informed about the basis for a listing, including a narrative summary of reasons; and (i) to ensure that no decision to maintain or discontinue a listing is pending for longer than 6 months.

UK TREASURY LIFTS FINANCIAL SANCTIONS AGAINST MOAZZAM BEGG

HM Treasury in the United Kingdom has lifted financial sanctions on the former Guantánamo inmate Moazzam Begg, two weeks after Mr Begg was released from Belmarsh prison after the case against him was discontinued.

Moazzem Begg was arrested in February 2014 on suspicion of committing terrorism offences linked to Syria and became subject to an asset freezing order under the UK Terrorist Asset-Freezing Act 2010. On 14 October 2014, HM Treasury published a notice revoking Mr Begg’s designation with immediate effect and instructed all bodies to “remove all restrictions imposed by the asset freeze for accounts or other funds associated with [Begg]”.

EU RENEWS GUINEA SANCTIONS

On 21 October 2014, the EU decided to renew sanctions currently in force against Guinea.

Council Decision 2010/638/CFSP, which was adopted on 25 October 2010 and contains travel restrictions and asset freezes, was reviewed by the EU. The restrictive measures have been extended until 27 October 2015, but ‘shall be kept under constant review’ and the Decision will ‘be renewed or amended, as appropriate, if the Council deems that its objectives have not been met’.

EU sanctions against Guinea are imposed pursuant to the EU’s autonomous Common Foreign and Security Policy powers. A Notice in the Official Journal of the EU informs listed people of the possibility of applying to relevant Member States to authorise the use of frozen funds for basic needs or specific payments. It also notifies those listed that they may submit a request for reconsideration to the Council or challenge the Council’s decision before the General Court of the EU

A list of all EU sanctions in force against Guinea is on the ‘sanctions in force’ section of this blog.

 

EU IMPLEMENTS UN ADDITIONS TO SOMALIA SANCTIONS

On 21 October 2014, the EU published Council Implementing Regulation (EU) No 1104/2014 and Council Implementing Decision 2014/729/CFSP which implement the updates made by the United Nations Security Council to its sanctions relating to Somalia. Both of the measures enter into force on the date of their publication in the Official Journal of the EU.

The amendments add two new people (Maalim Salman and Ahmend Diriye) on the basis of their senior roles in al-Shabaab. The new Regulation implements Article 12(1) of Council Regulation (EU) No 356/2010 and the new Decision implements Council Decision 2010/231/CFSP.

The UN has targeted restrictive measures against Al-Shabaab and Somalian individuals deemed to threaten the peace process since 2008.

A Notice published in the Official Journal informs listed people of the possibility of challenging the decision in the General Court of the EU or submitting a request to the United Nations Focal Point or Council of the EU for reconsideration.

A full list of EU sanctions in force against Somalia can be found on the ‘sanctions in force’ section of this blog.

 

UK GIVES EFFECT TO CRIMEA/SEVASTOPOL IMPORT RESTRICTIONS IN UK OVERSEAS TERRITORIES

The European Union prohibited the import into the European Union of goods originating in Crimea or Sevastopol on 23 July 2014 (see previous blog). The UK has now published a statutory instrument, the Russia, Crimea and Sevastopol (Sanctions) (Overseas Territories) Order 2014, which gives effect those EU prohibitions in certain specified UK Overseas Territories.

The EU prohibitions to which it gives effect are Council Decision 2014/386/CFSP of 23 June 2014 (as amended by Council Decision 2014/507/CFSP of 30 July 2014), and Council Decision 2014/512/CFSP of 31 July 2014, as amended by EU Council Decision 2014/659/CFSP of 8 September 2014.

The territories to which the order extends are: Anguilla; British Antarctic Territory; British Indian Ocean Territory; the Cayman Islands; the Falkland Islands; Montserrat; Pitcairn, Henderson, the Ducie and Oeno Islands; St Helena, Ascension and Tristan da Cunha; South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands; the Sovereign Base Areas of Akrotiri and Dhekelia in the Island of Cyprus; the Turks and Caicos Islands and the Virgin Islands.

The order entered into force on 16th October 2014.