The EU has de-listed 19 entities from its sanctions on Iraq, which freeze the assets of the previous Government of Iraq, and related people and entities, if those assets were located outside Iraq on 22 May 2003. This implements a UN decision to de-list the entities from UN sanctions on 16 September 2016. The UN and EU de-listed 5 other entities earlier this month (see previous blogs here and here).
We reported in July (here) that the House of Commons Defence Committee had called on the UK government to consider extending the EU’s Russia sanctions, but had noted that sanctions had not reduced Russian military investment and expansion, nor led to Russia’s compliance with the Minsk Agreement.
The Committee has now published the Government’s response which is as follows:
“The UK supports continuation of the robust approach by the EU towards sanctions against Russia. The EU’s Tier III economic sanctions were renewed in July. All EU member states agree that sanctions should be clearly linked to Russia’s implementation of the Minsk agreements. The UK supports the EU’s Tier II asset freeze and travel ban restrictive measures. The EU will discuss renewal of these sanctions in September 2016, when the UK will argue for complete rollover. We believe that the current sanctions are firm and proportionate.”
The EU’s High Representative, Federica Mogherini, has issued a declaration on South Sudan following widespread violence in July this year. The EU has reiterated its call on all parties to implement the Agreement on the Resolution of the Conflict in good faith, and remains ready to impose sanctions on anyone undermining South Sudan’s peace process. The declaration notes that the EU has long maintained an arms embargo on South Sudan, and supports the UN Security Council’s willingness to consider additional measures, including an arms embargo, should obstruction of the UN’s mission in South Sudan continue.
The US Treasury has published reports on OFAC’s licensing activities under the Trade Sanctions Reform and Export Enhancement Act 2000 for the 2nd-4th quarters of 2015 (available here). Under that legislation, OFAC processes licence applications requesting authorisation to export agricultural commodities, medicine, and medical devices to Iran and Sudan.
The reports indicate that over the reporting period the average processing time for TSRA applications increased from 71 to 88 business days, not including still unprocessed applications. 328 applications (over half of all applications filed during the reporting period) were still unprocessed at the end of the period. No licence applications were denied during the reporting period.
De-listing of Al Haramain Islamic Foundation
OFAC has removed the US branch of Al Haramain Islamic Foundation (AHIF), a charity that was listed as a Specially Designated Global Terrorist, from its SDN List. The US Treasury said last Friday the decision to de-list AHIF was taken after it agreed to dissolve, following legal action in which it accused the US government of using classified evidence to shut down a legitimate charity. In 2011, a US appeals court found that the charity’s rights of due process had been violated by not disclosing the evidence against it and failing to give reasons for its investigation (link to judgment here). AHIF’s non-US branches remain on the SDN List.
The State Department has designated Omar Diaby, Fathi Hammad, and the Jund al-Aqsa organisation as Specially Designated Global Terrorists.
- Omar Diaby – Said to lead a group of French terrorist fighters in Syria, which has fought alongside the designated group al-Nusrah Front.
- Fathi Hammad – Allegedly engaged in terrorist activity for designated entity Hamas, where he was Interior Minister. He is said to have established Al-Aqsa TV, which broadcast programmes designed to recruit children to become armed fighters and suicide bombers.
- Jund al-Aqsa – Said to have carried out several terrorist operations in Syria, including the massacre of 40 civilians in the village of Maan in 2014.
Maya Lester QC is chairing a panel at Chatham House on Iran post nuclear / sanctions agreement on 3rd October 2016 at 6pm. The panel will discuss the impact of lifting sanctions on Iran, whether economic and other benefits are being realised a year on, the position of financial institutions and businesses, and the impact of upcoming events including US and Iranian elections and Brexit. Panelists are from RUSI, the University of Alabama and Chatham House. Details here.
We reported in July last year (here) that the General Court of the EU dismissed the challenge by the Iranian Offshore Engineering Company to its re-listing on the EU’s Iran sanctions for being an “important entity” in Iran’s energy sector which “provides financial and logistical support to the government of Iran”. The ECJ has now upheld the General Court’s judgment on appeal, holding that the reasons given for listing the company, and the criterion of providing “logistical support” to the Government of Iran were sufficiently precise to withstand judicial review, and that the Court below had been entitled to conclude on the facts that the IOEC is an important company in the energy sector providing the government with logistical support. A link to the judgment is here; Case C-459/15 P.
The National Iranian Tanker Company had its EU listing annulled in July 2014 (blog here), when the reasons given for its inclusion on the EU’s Iran sanctions were that it was “effectively controlled by the Iranian Government. Provides financial support to the Government of Iran through its shareholders which maintain ties with the Government”. Although the Council did not appeal, it re-listed NITC in 2015 on the grounds that it provides “logistical support” on the same factual basis. The EU General Court has now rejected NITC’s application to annul that re-listing (Case T-207/15, judgment here), saying that:
- The EU Council may re-list an entity on the basis of the same facts as the first listing, and may re-list on the basis of facts or legal criteria it could have relied on for an initial listing. Link to the interim relief judgment on this point is here.
- Although the Council was relying on the same facts, giving them the new label “logistical support” rather than “financial support” meant the issue was not res judicata (and didn’t breach the NITC’s legitimate expectations or the principles of legal certainty and effective remedies) because the Court had previously only considered “financial support” in relation to NITC.
- The Council was entitled to conclude (on the basis of the EU Court’s case law on the meaning of “support to the Government of Iran” such as NIOC, link here, and other judgments reported on this blog) that NITC provides logistical support to the Iranian Government given the significance of its transport activities in the Iranian oil sector. The Court therefore did not examine the arguments in relation to financial support.
- The Court approached rights of defence by saying that late disclosure of evidence would only justify annulment if a re-listing could not have been justified on the basis of the material which was disclosed in good time. The Court found that the Council gave an unnecessary short deadline for NITC to submit observations, but that that didn’t prevent NITC from making its views known.
- Interestingly, however, the Court said the Council has an obligation to be particularly rigorous in its re-listing decisions, and that a lack of rigour could be relevant to any damages claims for wrongful initial listings.
Maya Lester QC acts for the NITC.