US sanctions Venezuelan President

The US Treasury has today added President Maduro to its Venezuela SDN list (details here), alleging that Venezuela’s president has attempted to undermine democracy and the rule of law in Venezuela.  This means that all his personal assets subject to US jurisdiction are frozen and all Americans are prohibited from dealing with him.

US adds to Iran ballistic sanctions

On Friday, the USA imposed sanctions on 6 subsidiaries of Shahid Henmat Industrial Group, in response to Iran’s rockets test last week that the USA, France, Germany and the UK said was inconsistent with a UN Security Council resolution calling on Iran not to conduct tests of that kind. The 6 Shahid Hemmat units manufacture missile components, missile airframes, liquid-propellant ballistic missile engines, liquid propellant, guidance and control systems, and undertake missile-related research and maintenance.

Russia retaliates as US Congress passes new sanctions bill

On Tuesday, the US House of Representatives voted overwhelmingly in favour of imposing new sanctions on Russia, Iran, and North Korea (see previous blog).  That bill has now also passed the US Senate, and will go before President Trump for his signature.

In response, Russia has instructed the US to reduce the number of its diplomatic personnel in Russia to 455 at any given time, and has seized holiday properties and a warehouse used by US personnel.  It is reported that there are currently over 1000 staff working at the US embassy in Moscow and its 3 Russian consulates.

ECJ terrorist re-listing judgments on Hamas and LTTE

The Grand Chamber of the ECJ has upheld an application brought by the EU Council to set aside a decision of the General Court to annul the designation of Hamas (see previous blog), and has dismissed the application to set aside the judgment annulling the re-listing of the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) (see previous blog).  Case C-79/15 P Council v Hamas and Case C-599/14 P Council v LTTE.

The ECJ said the General Court was wrong to have held that in considering whether a re-listing remained justified on the basis of ongoing terrorist risk, the EU had to decide only on the basis of material that had been assessed by the national authorities.

Because the General Court’s decision to annul Hamas’ listing was solely based on that ground, ECJ referred the case back to the General Court. However, in LTTE’s case the ECJ found that the General Court’s decision to annul was correct on other grounds despite that error; the Council had not included in its reasons an assessment of whether the Indian competent authority protected rights of defence and effective judicial review in a manner equivalent to protection at EU level.

US sanctions on Venezuela

The US said it would impose “strong and swift” sanctions on Venezuela if President Nicolás Maduro carried out his plan to create a “constituent assembly”, which would rival the National Assembly and could rewrite the country’s constitution. The new US sanctions target 13 current and former senior officials of the government of Venezuela, including the President of the Maduro-controlled National Electoral Council, Venezuela’s Minister of Justice (also the subject of a US indictment for participation in international cocaine distribution), and the National Director of Venezuela’s Bolivarian National Police.

US Treasury press release, and details of the new listings are here.

EU re-lists Arkady Rotenberg on Russia sanctions

The EU has re-listed Arkady Rotenberg on the EU’s sanctions against people said to be involved in undermining or threatening the territorial integrity of Ukraine.

In November last year the General Court found that the reasons for Mr Rotenberg’s original listing were unlawful, and that the reasons for his second listing were in part unlawful (see previous blog).  This was because the EU could not show that he was “associated with people responsible for undermining the territorial integrity of Ukraine”, and because one of the reasons said to show that he “benefitted from decision-makers who were responsible for the annexation of Crimea” related to contracts won by Mr Rotenberg before President Putin threatened the annexation of Crimea.

The amended reasons are set out in Implementing Regulation (EU) 2017/1374 implementing Regulation (EU) 269/2014 and Decision (CFSP) 2017/1386 amending Decision 2014/145/CFSP. Maya Lester QC acts for Mr Rotenberg.

House of Representatives votes for US sanctions on Russia, Iran, & N Korea

The US House of Representatives has overwhelmingly (419-3) passed legislation which imposes new sanctions on Russia (for involvement in the 2016 election), Iran, and North Korea, and require the President to obtain approval from Congress before lifting US sanctions.  The US Senate recently passed a similar bill (see previous blog), but the House amended the legislation before passing it and so it must now return to the Senate for approval. The White House has expressed concerns that the Bill will restrict a President’s ability to conduct foreign policy, but has not yet indicated whether President Trump will sign the legislation.

The EU has raised concerns about these new US sanctions (see previous blog), saying that it stands ready to retaliate if the US imposes new sanctions on Russia without first addressing Europe’s concerns. EU Commissioners have been briefed that several EU energy and infrastructure projects, including a multibillion-euro pipeline involving Russia, could be affected by the sanctions in their current form.

UN adds 10 to ISIL & AL-Qaida sanctions

The UN has added 8 people and 2 entities to its sanctions against ISIL & AL-Qaida, by UN Security Council Resolution 2368. They are all listed for “participating in the financing, planning, facilitating, preparing, or perpetrating of acts or activities” involving ISIL.

The UK has implemented the listings, which will cease to apply in the UK on 20 August if the EU does not implement them. The UK’s notice is here.