Russia places British Magnitsky-campaigner on Interpol wanted list

Russia1.jpgBritish businessman Bill Browder, who has lobbied Western governments to hold accountable those responsible for the death of jailed Moscow-lawyer Sergei Magnitsky, has been placed by Russia on the Interpol wanted list. Russia utilised its rights as an individual Interpol member to call for Mr. Browder’s arrest and extradition via a ‘diffusion’, which allows countries to, effectively, unilaterally place individuals on the Interpol database. The US State Department has also revoked Mr. Browder’s visa.

The announcement comes days after Canada passed laws to impose ‘Magnitsky-style’ sanctions against foreign nationals who commit gross violations of internationally recognised human rights (see previous blog here).

EU renews Burundi sanctions

EU2The EU announced today that it has renewed its restrictive measures against Burundi for another year, until 31 October 2018. The measures apply to 4 people “whose activities are deemed to be undermining democratic governance and obstructing the search for a peaceful political solution in Burundi”, including “acts of violence, repression or incitement to violence and acts which constitute serious human rights violations”. The EU considered that “the absence of progress in the situation in Burundi justified the renewal of the sanctions for another year”. See Council Decision (CFSP) 2015/1763.

ECJ rejects Yanukovych appeals

CJEU1The European Court of Justice has dismissed the appeals of Viktor Yanukovych, former President of Ukraine, and his son Oleksandr Yanukovych, against the General Court judgments refusing to annul their listings on the EU’s Ukraine misappropriation sanctions. Links to judgments here: C-598/16 and C-599/16, both of 19 October 2017. Judgments below here: T-346/14 and T-348/14.

We previously reported that the General Court annulled their original listings, which had said that they were “subject to investigation in Ukraine…for the embezzlement of Ukrainian state funds”, for the same reason as all the Court’s previous Ukraine judgments (see eg previous blog here), namely that the listings were only based on a letter from Ukraine’s prosecutor stating that investigations had been opened into a number of former senior officials to establish the misappropriation of public funds, but said nothing about what each individual was accused of.  The Court then upheld the amended reasons given in subsequent listings saying that they were “subject to criminal proceedings” by the Ukrainian authorities for the “misappropriation of public funds or assets”, on the basis of a Ukrainian prosecutors’ letter.

The ECJ upheld this approach, and regarded the appeals as a request impermissibly for the appeal court to reassess the facts found by the court below, and dismissed the arguments that the listing criterion for the Ukraine misappropriation regime did not pursue a valid foreign policy objective or that the General Court had been wrong to rely on the Ukrainian prosecutor’s letter as a sufficient underpinning for the sanctions.

Switzerland implements UN sanctions on N Korea

Switzerland1Switzerland has adopted a series of sanctions against DPRK, implementing UN Security Council Resolutions 2371 (2017) and 2375 (2017). Work permits will no longer be issued to citizens of DPRK and, in the financial sector, joint ventures and cooperative entities, both ongoing and new, with links to DPRK, have been prohibited. Financial transactions with DPRK have been prohibited, except those solely for the operation of diplomatic or consular missions or for humanitarian activities. The ban on trade goods has been extended. The handling of goods bound for or coming from DPRK, or from ship to ship with a DPRK vessel, has been prohibited. For the Swiss press release, click here.

Canada passes sanctions law targeting foreign violators of human rights

Canada2.jpgThe Justice for Victims of Corrupt Foreign Officials Act (Sergei Magnitsky Law), a Canadian bill which provides for restrictive measures to be taken against foreign nationals responsible for gross violations of internationally recognised human rights, has received Royal Assent.

Under the law, foreign nationals will be subject to restrictive measures if they are found to have been responsible for, or complicit in, “gross violations of internationally recognised human rights committed against individuals in any foreign country” who seek to “expose illegal activity carried out by government officials”, or to “obtain, exercise, defend or promote internationally recognised human rights and freedoms”. The law also targets foreign nationals involved in acts of “significant corruption”.

Similar laws were passed in the US (see previous blog here) and Estonia (see previous blog here). In the UK, the Criminal Finances Act 2017 was passed, however, the relevant sections dealing with ‘Magnitsky-style’ sanctions have yet to come into force.

Post Brexit UK sanctions Bill introduced to Parliament

Parliament2.jpgThe Sanctions and Anti-Money Laundering Bill was introduced into the House of Lords this week (first reading on 18 October 2017). The Government’s press release states that the Bill “ensures that when the UK leaves the EU, we can continue to impose, update, and lift sanctions and AML regimes”. Impact assessment here and regulatory policy committee assessment here. See previous blogs for the background to this Bill and consultation process.

Security Council assessment of UN sanctions review

UN1.jpgThe UN Security Council has published an Assessment Report assessing the Compendium of the ‘High Level Review’ of UN Sanctions (November 2015), which was the first comprehensive review of UN sanctions. The Compendium and the Assessment Report are “intended to serve as a basis for ongoing dialogue and engagement in promoting more effective and collaborative United Nations sanctions procedures”.

The Assessment Report makes 10  recommendations for strengthening cooperation within the UN sanctions system, enhancing cooperation between UN sanctions and the private sector, improving definitions and standards used in sanctions resolutions and related documents, refining the due process of UN sanctions, and supporting states that bear a disproportionate implementation burden.