UN EXTENDS SUDAN SANCTIONS AND CONSIDERS SANCTIONS ON YEMEN

The UN Security Council adopted Resolution 2138 (2014) on 13 February 2014, extending the mandate of the Sudan Panel of Experts for 13 months.

The resolution expresses serious concerns about the violence in Darfur, non-implementation of UN sanctions against Sudan (including travel bans and asset freezes), and the supply of weapons systems for use by the Government in violation of UN restrictive measures.  The resolution condemns obstacles imposed by the Government of Sudan to the work of the Panel of Exports, and asks the Panel to to provide  updates to the Sanctions Committee, including a “midterm briefing” in July 2014 and a final report in January 2015.

Meanwhile the UK circulated a draft resolution to the Security Council on 20 February 2014 which proposes to impose travel bans and asset freezes on individuals in Yemen who obstruct or undermine the country’s political transition and commit human rights violations.

UK FOREIGN OFFICE CONSULTS ON CONTRACT SANCTIONS

The Foreign & Commonwealth Office  (FCO) in the UK has launched a consultation into “contract sanctions”.

The FCO is considering the pros and cons of a new kind of sanctions mechanism, to be enacted either at UK, EU or UN level, to prevent courts (in jurisdictions that enact the kind of legislation that is proposed) from enforcing contracts entered into with “targeted regimes”. The objective, according to the FCO, is to “increase the pressure on repressive regimes or countries engaged in proliferation of nuclear technology and extend the scope of traditional sanctions, to provide disincentives to the private sector outside the EU from doing business with targeted regimes”.

The consultation document identifies potential benefits and risks of “contract sanctions”, and explains that “Traditional sanctions prohibit the movement of certain goods, funds or persons.  They only bind the countries that have signed up to them, and rely on those countries enforcing these prohibitions effectively. Contract sanctions have a potentially wider sphere of influence in that they act as a disincentive to anyone signing a contract with a target regime regardless of where the individual/entity is based.  In this way they have greater potential to influence the behaviour of a wide range of international actors who may not be subject to eg EU law”.

The consultation document is here and responses are sought by 14th March 2014.

EU FOREIGN MINISTERS AGREE TO IMPOSE SANCTIONS ON UKRAINIAN OFFICIALS

Following our blog reporting the Extraordinary Meeting in Brussels of EU Foreign Ministers on 20 February 2014, the outcome of that meeting has been announced. EU Foreign Ministers agreed on 20 February 2014 to impose sanctions on Ukrainian officials “responsible for violence and excessive force.”

UK Foreign Secretary William Hague said in his statement that “some people are responsible for the violence and so we have decided to introduce targeted measures and targeted sanctions involving visa bans and asset freezes on those individuals who are responsible.” The Swedish Foreign Minister Carl Bildt has reportedly tweeted that asset freezes and travel bans would be adopted as a matter of urgency.

Speaking after the meeting, EU High Representative for Foreign Policy Catherine Ashton confirmed that EU Foreign Ministers had further agreed to “suspend export licences for equipment for internal repression.”

EU SET TO IMPOSE SANCTIONS AS VIOLENCE INTENSIFIES IN UKRAINE

GTY_ukraine_protests_sk_131204_16x9_992It is being reported that an extraordinary meeting of EU Foreign Ministers has been called for 20 February 2014, in response to growing violence in Ukraine.

Jose Manuel Barroso, the President of the European Commission, said in a  statement today that he expected the EU to adopt “targeted measures against those responsible for violence and use of excessive force“.  High Representative for Foreign Policy Catherine Ashton added that “All possible options will be explored, including restrictive measures against those responsible for repression and human rights violations.”

Germany’s Foreign Minister, Frank-Walter Steinmeier, is reported to have said that “Whoever is responsible for the decisions which has led to the bloodshed in Kiev and other parts of Ukraine should expect Europe to reconsider its position on imposing sanctions on individuals.”

News agencies have reported the Ukrainian Ministry of Health’s estimate of 19 February 2014, that 25 people have been killed in recent violence as riot police attempted to clear protestors from Independence Square in Kiev.  In a statement released on 19 February 2014, President Yanukovich said that “Without any mandate from the people, illegally and in breach of the constitution of Ukraine, these politicians – if I may use that term – have resorted to pogroms, arson and murder to try to seize power.”  President Yanukovich, who retains strong support in Moscow, has declared 20 February 2014, a day of mourning for the dead.

Reports have suggested that the United States is considering sanctions for both sides of the dispute.  US Ambassador Geoffrey Pyatt is reported to have released a statement on Twitter, stating that “We believe Ukraine’s crisis can still be solved via dialogue, but those on both sides who fuel violence will open themselves to sanctions. This follows an earlier  statement by him on 5 February 2014, when he was quoted as saying that “If such scenarios as the introduction of state of emergency or an attempt to clear the Independence Square take place, we will resort to serious economic and visa sanctions against Ukraine.”

Several calls within the EU for the imposition of sanctions have been reported in recent weeks. On 10 February 2014, a meeting of EU Foreign Ministers in Brussels led to a number of statements on the threat of EU sanctions against Ukraine.  Lubomir Zaoralek, Foreign Minister of the Czech Republic, was reported as saying that the EU must be ready to impose sanctions if the Ukrainian authorities persist in using violence against protestors.

Ukraine has been hit by more than two months of unrest following a decision by President Viktor Yanukovich not to pursue trade and other deals with the European Union. 

EU SUSPENDS ZIMBABWE SANCTIONS

The EU has suspended the operation of its restrictive measures against all individuals and entities on its Zimbabwe sanctions list, except for Robert and Grace Mugabe and Zimbabwe Defence Industries, and has said that “appropriate measures” will expire on 1 November 2014 provided that there is “no serious deterioration in the governance and human rights situation”. This was announced today (19 February 2014) in a declaration by the High Representative, Catherine Ashton, and foreshadowed in a joint proposal last week.  There is a new Decision, Regulation and Notice.  The UK Treasury’s Notice explaining the changes is here, and the amended UK implementing Regulation here.

The EU had previously suspended the operation of the asset freeze and travel ban as regards 81 individuals and 8 companies on 25 March 2013 (but not de-listed them) in recognition of a “peaceful, successful and credible vote to approve a new constitution”, (see previous blog post) and on 21 August 2013 had continued these sanctions for a further six months (previous blog post).

Catherine Ashton’s statement records the EU’s position that “these Measures do not have any direct economic or social impact on the Zimbabwean people, and should not be blamed for the wider socio-economic challenges facing the country”.  She states that the EU welcomed the “generally peaceful manner” in which the 2013 elections were conducted, but that they “remain seriously concerned about the significant weaknesses identified in the electoral process and the lack of transparency identified by the SADC, AU and domestic observations missions, which calls into doubt the credibility of the elections” and call for “significant improvements in the electoral process”.

SIMONE GBAGBO APPEALS TOO LATE IN LUXEMBOURG

Last year, Simone Gbagbo lost her application to the General Court to annul her designation on the EU’s restrictive measures relating to the Ivory Coast, because the application was brought out of time – see previous blog on Case T-119/11 of 25 April 2013.

The Court of Justice (the appellate court in Luxembourg) has now held that her appeal against that judgment was brought out of time too – Case C-397/13 P, 29 January 2014 (Order here, available only in French).

The Statute of the Court of Justice provides that appeals must be brought within 2 months plus 10 days.  Ms Gbagbo’s appeal was lodged on 10 July 2013, without any explanation for the lateness, and the Court of Justice has therefore rejected it as inadmissible and ordered her to pay the Council’s legal costs.

UK GOVERNMENT RESPONDS TO TERRORISM WATCHDOG RECOMMENDATIONS

We reported here in December 2013 that the Independent Reviewer of Terrorism Legislation, David Anderson QC, had published his third report on the operation of the Terrorist Asset-Freezing etc Act 2010 (TAFA).  Link here, updating his first report (of December 2011).

HM Treasury has now published its response (agreed with other relevant Government departments), which addresses the two recommendations in the third report.

First, David Anderson recommended giving “high level” consideration to the practical role that TAFA may realistically be expected to play in the fight against terrorism.  The Government’s response states that “Senior-level interdepartmental discussions continue to take place on the best use of HMG’s terrorist asset freezing powers and the way that those powers can be used to best effect. We will continue those discussions during the course of the next year, aiming to ensure that our terrorist asset freezing powers continue to be used and administered in an effective and proportionate way to help protect the public from the threat of terrorism.”

Second, the report recommended putting in place mechanisms to ensure that designation under TAFA is considered in all cases in which it could be beneficial.  In particular, it suggests that “the possibility of designation should be routinely considered in cases where TPIMs and proscription are being contemplated, when suspected terrorists are arrested or charged and in cases where deportations, deprivations of citizenship or passport removal are contemplated on national security grounds.”

The Government’s response states that it “agrees that TAFA designations should be considered in all cases where they may be beneficial. The Treasury is advised by law enforcement and security agencies of the individuals and entities against whom TAFA designation might be appropriate. Those agencies are best placed to decide and advise on the most appropriate mechanisms to disrupt terrorist activity by a person or entity. Law enforcement and security agencies already have processes in place to consider the various options to disrupt terrorist-related activity. However, the Treasury will continue to work closely with partner agencies to raise the awareness of asset freezing, its effects and requirements for designation with partner agencies to aid their consideration of the appropriate disruptive tools to use.” 

EU AMENDS SYRIA SANCTIONS TO ALLOW PAYMENTS FOR DESTRUCTION OF CHEMICAL WEAPONS

On 11 February 2014 the European Council published a new Decision and Regulation amending its restrictive measures relating to Syria to enable the release of funds or economic resources to make payments relating to the destruction of Syrian chemical weapons.
The new provisions allow payments to be made on behalf of the Syrian Arab Republic to the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) for activities related to the OPCW verification mission and the destruction of Syrian chemical weapons, and in particular to the OPCW Syrian Special Trust Fund for activities related to the destruction of Syrian chemical weapons outside the territory of the Syrian Arab Republic.
The notice from HM Treasury about this derogation is here.