EU RENEWS AND UPDATES UKRAINE AND SYRIA SANCTIONS

The Council of the European Union has updated its lists of people and entities subject to sanctions against Ukraine and Syria.  The new measures are on the ‘sanctions in force’ section of this blog.

Ukraine: By a new Decision and Regulation published today, the EU has amended the statement of reasons it has published for designating 17 of the people and 2 of the entities on its targeted sanctions list, and a notice bringing to the attention of listed people /  entities the possibilities for applying to be de-listed.

Syria: By a new Decision and Regulation also published today, the EU has renewed its Syria sanctions by another a year (until 1 June 2015), has deleted 2 people and 1 entity from the list, and amended the information relating to a number of others.  It has published a notice again bringing to the attention of listed people /  entities the possibilities for applying to be de-listed.

UPDATE ON EU UKRAINE SANCTIONS

The European Union had indicated in a number of statements a few weeks ago that it would consider escalating its sanctions against Russia depending on what happened at the Presidential election in Ukraine.

Last night the EU heads of state made a statement welcoming that election “as an expression of the will of the Ukrainian people. The presidential election was characterised by high turnout and a clear resolve by the authorities to hold what was a genuine election largely in line with international commitments and respecting fundamental freedoms, despite the hostile security environment in two eastern regions of the country.”  The EU has therefore not escalated its sanctions, but has made clear that “preparatory work by the Commission and the EEAS on possible targeted measures is underway and agree to continue preparations for possible further steps on that basis should events so require.”

DATA PROTECTION RECOMMENDATIONS FOR EU SANCTIONS

The European Data Protection Supervisor (EDPS) has published a number of interesting opinions on targeted sanctions measures, which are on the ‘guidelines’ sections of this blog.  His latest opinion – link here – (published on 7 May 2014) makes a number of recommendations to the Council of the EU on the way in which is processes personal data when it draws up and reviews its lists of targets for asset freezing measures.  His latest opinion covers EU “autonomous” measures relating to both to terrorism and “country” regimes, and to EU measures implementing UN regimes.

The Opinion provides a summary of EU asset freezing measures, including the respects in which they involve the processing of personal data by the Council of the EU, pursuant to the EU Data Protection Regulation (Regulation 45/2001).  A previous opinion related to data processing by the European Commission.  The Opinion makes a number of observations and recommendations, including the following:

1)   The very fact of appearing on a list of persons whose assets are to be frozen may imply “the suspicion of being related to criminal activity”, and may therefore involve processing sensitive personal data relating to (suspected) “offences, criminal convictions or security measures”.  The EDPS finds that not all EU sanctions measures properly authorize publication of that kind of data (eg the Zimbabwe, Congo, Liberla, Somalia and Sudan measures).

2)   The EDPS invites the Council to assess the necessity of publishing every item of data concerning an individual, on a case by case basis, in order to make sure that it is “strictly limited to what is necessary to identify the person concerned”.  The EDPS doubts whether it is necessary and proportionate to publish in the Official Journal data on suspected human rights infringements or criminal activity, rather than simply making that data available to the person concerned.

3)   “Given the serious consequences that restrictive measures have on affected persons, utmost attention must be given to the accuracy of the personal data”.  The Opinion recommends that the Council review all data “regularly and frequently” in order to ensure that it is accurate and up to date, to ensure the “quality” of the data when it draws up the lists, and to rectify inaccurate data (which could include the very fact that a person was included on the list) “immediately”, “without delay” (the EDPS suggests within one month).

4)   The EDPS recommends that individuals are given access to personal data about them on the Council’s file “on a wide basis”.  Access must not be refused simply because the Member State that provided the information does not agree to its release.  Access may only be refused on the grounds expressly listed in the Regulation (national security, public security etc), interpreted narrowly.

5)   Where a person’s data has been stored or published unlawfully, the EDPS recommends that the Council should not simply remove a person from the list, but should take additional steps “in order to publicly ‘clear’ the name of a wrongfully listed person”.  For example, the Council could publish the reasons for de-listing a person, inform him/her of the reasons for his / her removal by letter, and provide “a document facilitating the de-blocking of the accounts and reducing the negative effects on the person’s reputation”.   The EDPS recommends that the Council consider informing third parties (eg banks and financial institutions) directly of the rectification.

BOKO HARAM ADDED TO UN SANCTIONS LIST

boko haramOn 22 May 2014, the UN Security Council’s Al Qaida Sanctions Committee added the Nigerian terorist group, Boko Haram, to its List of Designated Entities. On the same day, the US Permanent Representative to the UN, Samantha Power, describing the move as an “important step in support of the government of Nigeria’s efforts to defeat Boko Haram and hold its murderous leadership accountable for atrocities.”

Welcoming the listing, UK Foreign Secretary, William Hague described Boko Haram as “an inhumane organisation who have no respect for religion or belief or a person’s right to decide their way of life”, noting that Britain was the first country to proscribe Boko Haram as a terrorist organisation.

In November 2013, the US State Department designated Boko Haram on the US Specially Designated Nationals List, and in June 2013, the US added Abubakar Shekau, Boko Haram’s official leader.

These enforecement steps follow recent high profile attacks by Boko Haram. On 14 April 2014, the group kidnapped over 250 young women from a secondary school in Chibok, Nigeria. More recently, it has been blamed for the deaths of 27 people in a north-eastern village in Nigeria and for twin bombings that killed 122 in the central Nigerian city of Jos.

SANCTIONS IN PROSPECT AFTER THAI MILITARY COUP

thailandInternational sanctions are among the responses being considered following the decision on 22 May 2014, by the Thai military, to impose martial law.

The Chief of the Royal Thai Army, General Prayuth Chan-ocha, announced that the military had taken control of government. He has ordered a curfew and the detention of civilian political leaders. In response, US Secretary of State John Kerry expressed that he was “concerned by reports that senior political leaders of Thailand’s major parties have been detained” and called for their release. UK Foreign Secretary, William Hague said “I am extremely concerned by today’s coup. The UK urges the restoration of a civilian government that has been democratically elected, serves the interests of its people and fulfils its human rights obligations” and the European Union released a statement saying that it is “following developments in Thailand with extreme concern” and stressing “the importance of holding credible and inclusive elections as soon as feasible.”

In 2006, the United States imposed sanctions in response to the military coup which ousted civilian Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra. The US is a key ally of Thailand, carrying out multilateral military training exercises on Thai soil. Secretary of State, Kerry warned that the coup could have “negative implications…especially for our relationship with the Thai military”. He expressed disappointment at the decision of the Thai military to suspend the constitution and take control of the government, adding that “there is no justification for this military coup.”

US SANCTIONS ANOTHER 12 INDIVIDUALS UNDER MAGNITSKY ACT

magnitskiyOn 20 May 2014, the US Office of Foreign Assets Control (“OFAC”) announced the addition of 12 names to the Specially Designated Nationals (“SDN”) list. Details of the 12 individuals appear here.

The names were added under the Sergei Magnitsky Rule of Law Accountability Act of 2012 (“The Magnitsky Act”). The Magnitsky Act authorises sanctions not only against those individuals responsible for the death and detention of Russian lawyer, Sergei Magnitsky, but also those involved in human rights violations against anyone seeking to expose illegal activity by Russian officials or seeking to promote human rights in Russia.

The newly designated officials include prison officials, a court official, a law enforcement investigator and a judge. One individual on the list, Dmitry Kratov, was acquitted in Russia after negligence was alleged against him in connection with Magnitsky’s death. Two individuals on the list were cited for “gross human rights violations” unrelated to Magnitsky’s death in prison, both being allegedly involved in the targeted killings of activists or journalists.

18 individuals have already been sanctioned under the Magnitsky Act. Those designated under the Act are not eligible to enter the United States and have any  assets under US control blocked.

EU RENEWS IVORY COAST SANCTIONS AND RE-LISTS GOSSIO

The European Union has just reviewed the list of people subject to sanctions in the Ivory Coast and decided to renew sanctions against all of them (except one, see below) in a new Decision and Regulation published on 13 May 2014.  The EU has published an notice informing everyone re-listed that they have two months in which to challenge their designations in the European court in Luxembourg.

The Council of the EU also amended the grounds for keeping Marcel Gossio designated.  We reported here that Marcel Gossio had lost his application to challenge his listing in the European Court last year, but the Council has now decided that he should be re-listed for different reasons.

The EU’s legal measures imposing sanctions on the Ivory Coast are on the ‘sanctions in force’ section of this blog.

UN AND EU AMEND SOMALIA SANCTIONS

The United Nations and European Union first imposed sanctions on Somalia in 2002, consisting first of an arms embargo, and later an asset freeze and travel ban in the EU on “those who seek to prevent or block a peaceful political process”, and on those who have violated the arms embargo or obstructed the delivery of or access to humanitarian assistance to Somalia.

As we reported here, last year the UN and EU provided a derogation from the arms embargo for equipment intended to support or be used by the UN Assistance Mission in Somalia and the EU Training Mission in Somalia.  The UN and EU have now (13 May 2014) reaffirmed the arms embargo, and renewed their “determination” that the arms embargo is not to apply to deliveries of weapons, ammunition or equipment intended solely for the development of the security forces of the Federal Government of Somalia to provide security for the Somali people, in a new resolution and EU Regulation and Decision.

Links to the EU’s sanctions against Somalia are on the ‘Sanctions in Force’ section of this blog.