20 countries consider tougher sanctions on N Korea

Vancouver.jpgYesterday, the US and Canada co-hosted the Vancouver Foreign Ministers’ Meeting on Security and Stability on the Korean Peninsula. Twenty nations (including the co-hosting nations, the UK, France, Japan, India and South Korea – full list here) pledged to the “full and effective implementation of existing [UN] sanctions on North Korea”. Furthermore, they collectively agreed “to consider and take steps to impose unilateral sanctions and further diplomatic actions that go beyond those required by UN Security Council resolutions”. Summary of meeting here.

Despite being permanent members of the UN Security Council, China and Russia did not participate in the meeting.

Significant amendments to Sanctions Bill at Lords Report Stage

Parliament7.jpgThe Sanctions and AML Bill (on which see previous blogs) started Report stage in the House of Lords yesterday. The transcript of the debate is here and here, and the amendments debated here. Key points in summary:

  • The Government has significantly amended the Bill, as a result of discussions with peers including Lord Pannick. Amendments include:
    • Restrictions on the Government’s regulation-making powers (confining the powers to cases in which there are good reasons to make new regulations, where new regulations are a reasonable course of action, and where there has been a report to Parliament).
    • Express procedural fairness requirements for designations, including the requirement to give a listed person or entity evidence or (in a national security context) the gist of the case against it / him / her.
    • An express recognition that the principle of proportionality applies to designations.
    • Restrictions on the power to designate by description (now limited to cases in which a reasonable person would know that an individual meets that description and it isn’t practicable to name an individual).
    • Enhanced requirements to give sanctions guidance and to review designations.
  • The Government was defeated on the two amendments that went to a vote, and as a result the Bill makes more explicit the purposes for which sanctions regulations can be made (including for human rights violations), and there is now no power for the Government to create new criminal offences.
  • There was discussion of the new licensing regime, including for NGOs. The Government stated that it will publish an “initial framework for exceptions and licences in the near future and will continue to consult interested parties before the Bill enters into force”.
  • The remedies for people / entities listed as a result of a UN designation will be “taken up” in the House of Commons, where the Bill will be debated in February.

The House of Lords Report Stage continues tomorrow, at which these amendments will be debated (supplemental amendment here).

Russia to impose sanctions against WADA officials for 2018 Olympics ban

Olympic rings.jpgRussian lawmakers have begun formulating sanctions against officials of the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) responsible for banning the Russian national team from participating in the 2018 Winter Olympic Games in PyeongChang (South Korea).

Andrei Klimov, Russia’s Chairman of the Commission of the Council of Federation for the Protection of State Sovereignty, has stated that “we should expose those people, who behind the back of the International Olympic Committee, used WADA to push for a ban on the national team. We have embarked on this path and are now working on it on the basis of proven facts.” Ten people are currently being considered for sanctions.

EU adds 4 ships to N Korea sanctions list

Ship2In line with the UN Security Council (previous blog here), the EU has added 4 vessels to its North Korea sanctions list, see: Council Implementing Decision (CFSP) 2018/58 and Council Implementing Regulation (EU) 2018/53. The vessels are as follows: Billions No. 18; Ul Ji Bong 6; Rung Ra 2; and Rye Song Gang 1. UK OFSI Notice here.

Trump upholds JCPOA & imposes new non-nuclear sanctions

Trump2President Trump has agreed to waive sanctions lifted by the USA (for the second time) as part of the JCPOA. His statement is here. These sanctions must be waived every 120 days to keep the sanctions from coming back into force under that agreement. The President said it would be the last time he issues such a waiver unless there is an agreement with “the Europeans” to “fix the deal’s disastrous flaws… This is a last chance… if at any time I judge that such an agreement is not within reach, I will withdraw from the deal immediately”. He is also seeking to amend the Iran Nuclear Agreement Review Act, and to agree new “triggers” with the EU for sanctions to snap back.

The US Treasury Department also imposed new sanctions on 14 Iranian people and entities said to have committed human rights abuses or supported Iran’s ballistic missile programmes (outside the scope of the JCPOA). These include Sadeq Larijani, head of Iran’s judiciary. OFAC Notice here, and US Treasury press release here.

Government response to UK Sanctions Bill constitutional concerns

FCO.jpgWe previously reported that the House of Lords Committee on the Constitution had published its Report on the UK Sanctions and Anti-Money Laundering Bill, raising a number of constitutional concerns. The Foreign and Commonwealth Office has now published a letter responding to those recommendations. Main points:

  1. In relation to the appropriateness of Ministers having such broad delegated powers, the Government has said it “sought to balance the twin demands of ensuring parliamentary scrutiny and ensuring rapid international responses”, and that it believes “the package of checks and balances in the Bill… will provide sufficient safeguards”.
  1. In respect of the recommendation that the Bill should state expressly that designation decisions are subject to proportionality, the Government confirms that proportionality applies but that it does “not consider it necessary to include the proportionality requirement on the face of the Bill”.
  1. The Report was concerned that the power to designate by description, as opposed to by name, does not comply with legal certainty. The letter states that the Government will “always seek to designate by name wherever possible”, but “in exceptional cases, may have a clear idea of the category of persons [it would] wish to designated but may not be able to identify all of the individuals by name. Designating by description would then offer a way to prevent a well-defined category of people from using their funds and assets to support activities targeted by sanctions”.
  1. As to the appropriateness of the power to sanction people “connected with” a country, the Government considers this to be necessary in order to implement / impose sectoral sanctions.
  1. In relation to the power to create criminal offences by regulation, the Government says “these types of offences already exist” and that the power is “supported by precedent”.
  1. The Government rejects the recommendation that the current safeguards for persons subject to a UN listing should be maintained in the Bill, with a right of appeal to the court.
  1. As to the Bill’s three-year review period for sanctions designations, the Government states that the matter “should be considered as part of a system of safeguards… [which it believes] will provide the right level of protected to designated persons”.

On 15 January 2018, the Bill will commence the Report stage in the House of Lords. The amendments listed for consideration are as follows: (a)(b)(c)(d) and (e). Running list of the amendments here.

EU updates ISIL (Da’esh) and Al-Qaida sanctions list

EU5.jpgIn line with the UN Security Council (previous blog here), the EU has removed one person, Zayn Al-Abidin Muhammad Hussein, and amended the entry of another, Seifallah Ben Hassine, from its ISIL (Da’esh) and Al-Qaida sanctions list, see: Council Implementing Regulation (EU) 2018/50. UK OFSI Notice here.

US introduces Bill sanctioning Iranian officials involved in politically motivated detentions of US citizens

US HoR.jpgOn 9 January 2018, the Iran Human Rights and Hostage-Taking Accountability Act was introduced to the US House of Representatives. The Bill makes provision for the imposition of sanctions (asset freezes and visa restrictions) against Iranian officials (including family members) responsible for politically-motivated intimidation, abuse, extortion, detention or trial of US citizens (as well as Iranian expatriates). The Bill also requires the President to submit a report, detailing a list of Iranian officials who should be sanctioned for human rights abuses and/or corruption. Bill summary here.

On the same day, the House of Representatives also passed a Resolution urging “the [US] Administration to use targeted sanctions and work to convene emergency sessions of the United Nations Security Council and the United Nations Human Rights Council to condemn the ongoing human rights violations perpetrated by the Iranian regime”.