EU Court rejects Syria annulment application by Rami Makhlouf

The General Court of the EU has dismissed the annulment application brought by Rami Makhlouf, a cousin of President Assad, in respect of his listing on the EU’s sanctions against Syria. He is listed for being a member of the Makhlouf family, having close ties to and supporting the Assad regime, and being an influential businessman in Syria.  See Case T-410/16 Makhlouf v Council [2017]. His case failed because the EU’s Syria sanctions now include influential businessmen in Syria and members of the Assad or Makhlouf families as criteria on the basis of which the EU can include people for designation.

The EU’s current Syria sanctions (including the listing criteria) and all judgments of this kind in the European Court are on this blog here.

Russia agrees to lift most of its sanctions on Turkey

Russia has agreed to lift most of the sanctions it imposed on Turkey after the latter shot down a Russian plane near the Turkish-Syrian border in 2015 (details not yet released).  Several restrictions on tourism to Turkey have already been lifted, and the Turkish Prime Minister Binali Yildrim said that “remaining sanctions in sectors like construction, consultancy, tourism, and wood would be lifted this month”.  A ban on Turkish tomatoes, one of Turkey’s key agricultural exports, will remain in place, and the visa ban on Turkish nationals.

Iran imposes reciprocal sanctions on 9 US firms

Iran has imposed sanctions on 9 more US people and companies, allowing the government of Iran to freeze their assets and bar their employees from entering the country.  The new listings follow the US government’s decision to impose new sanctions listings on Iran relating to its ballistic missile programme earlier this month (see previous blog).

The newly sanctioned firms are shipbuilder Huntington Ingalls Industries, cybersecurity firm Kingfisher Systems, military contractor DynCorp, management consultancy Booz Allen Hamilton, which works closely with the US government, McAlester Army Ammunition Plant, and the BIRD and BSF foundations, which are said to have supported cooperation between Israeli and American companies.  Also sanctioned are the CEOs of Booz Allen Hamilton and KingFisher Systems, Horacio Rozanski and Roy Reed.

US sanctions 8 judges on Venezuela’s Supreme Court

The US has sanctioned the President of Venezuela’s Supreme Court and 7 of its other judges. U.S. officials said the sanctions were a response to an incident in March in which the Supreme Court annulled Venezuela’s democratically elected National Assembly, which is controlled by Venezuela’s opposition party.

The sanctions freeze their assets, and prohibit US persons from doing business with them.  In the US Treasury’s press release, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said that “the United States is supporting the Venezuelan people in their efforts to protect and advance democratic governance in their country”.  The details of the listings are here.

UK implements UN CAR listing

The UK has added Hissene Abdoulaye to its consolidated list of Central African Republic sanctions targets so he is now subject to an asset freeze.  He was added to the UN’s sanctions last month (see previous blog).  He has not yet been added to the EU’s CAR sanctions list implementing UN listings. HM Treasury’s notice is here.

US renews JCPOA sanctions relief & adds to ballistic missile sanctions

The US has renewed the sanctions relief on Iran that it agreed to under the JCPOA nuclear deal, which must be renewed every 4-6 months.

It has also imposed new sanctions designations on 2 senior Iranian defence officials, one of whom is said to have facilitated the sale of explosives to Syria, 1 person and 3 entities allegedly involved in a China-based network supporting Iran’s military and ballistic missile programme, and an Iran-based firm supporting SHIG, a designated organisation involved in Iran’s liquid-fuel ballistic missile programme. The details of the new designations are here.

Canadian government endorses Magnitsky sanctions bill

The Canadian government has said that it supports a draft bill which, if passed through the Canadian legislature, would impose sanctions on human rights violators anywhere in the world.  The “Magnitsky-style” sanctions were recommended by a Canadian Parliamentary committee last month (see previous blog).  A Russian official responded to the Canadian government’s endorsement of the bill by saying that it would “not be left unanswered”.  The US, UK, and several other countries have already introduced Magnitsky sanctions on human rights violators in Russia and elsewhere.

US additions to Syria sanctions list

The US has sanctioned 5 people and 5 entities based in Syria for their connections with the Syrian government.  Among the new designations are a cousin of President Assad and people associated with the Scientific Studies and Research Centre, the Syrian government agency said to be responsible for developing and producing non-conventional weapons. A list of the new designations is here.