EU renews Burundi sanctions

EU2The EU announced today that it has renewed its restrictive measures against Burundi for another year, until 31 October 2018. The measures apply to 4 people “whose activities are deemed to be undermining democratic governance and obstructing the search for a peaceful political solution in Burundi”, including “acts of violence, repression or incitement to violence and acts which constitute serious human rights violations”. The EU considered that “the absence of progress in the situation in Burundi justified the renewal of the sanctions for another year”. See Council Decision (CFSP) 2017/1933, amending Council Decision (CFSP) 2015/1763.

The EU has published a Notice for those on the Burundi list, renewing their inclusion in the Annex to Council Decision (CFSP) 2015/1763 (as amended) and in Annex I to Council Regulation (EU) 2015/1755. The Notice explains that they can submit a request to the EU Council before 2 July 2018 for a reconsideration of their inclusion, and can challenge the Council’s listing decision in the EU General Court.

EU renews Burundi sanctions

The EU has decided to renew its sanctions relating to Burundi until 31 October 2017.  The sanctions impose asset freezes and travel bans on four people whose activities were said to be undermining democracy or the search for a political solution to the crisis in the Burundi, following President Nkurunziza’s disputed re-election (see previous blog).

In its press release, the EU Council stated that the absence of progress in the situation concerning the 4 sanctioned people justified the renewal of the sanctions.  See Decision 2016/1745 amending Decision 2015/1763.

US adds 3 to its Burundi sanctions

The US has sanctioned two pro-government officials and one member of an armed opposition group in Burundi for threatening Burundi’s peace, security, or stability.  US sanctions on Burundi have been in force since the start of its political crisis last year, following the election of President Nkurunziza to a disputed 3rd term (see previous blog).  The 3 people are:

  1. Marius Ngendabanka – Military commander, said to be involved in “purification” operations against those opposed to the president’s 3rd term.
  2. Ignace Sibomana – A member of the Burundian security forces linked to the president’s inner circle, said to have supported the commission of extrajudicial killings.
  3. Edouard Nshimirimana – A former senior Burundian army officer who leads the FOREBU rebel group, which armed itself by conducting attacks on military camps that led to 87 people reportedly being killed.

In the US Treasury’s press release, Acting Director of OFAC John Smith said that the Treasury “is committed to disrupting this destructive behaviour that has such harrowing consequences on the Burundi people”, and is being engaged in by “both sides of the conflict”.

OFAC implements US sanctions on Burundi

OFAC has issued new regulations to implement Executive Order 13712, which was signed in November 2015 and blocks the property of people and entities who contribute to the turmoil in Burundi, including by threatening its peace and security, undermining its democratic processes, and committing human rights abuses (see previous blog).  Assets belonging to designated people and entities will be frozen, and US persons will be prohibited from doing business with them.

The EU introduced targeted sanctions on Burundi in October, and stated in February that it was ready to extend them to “those whose actions might have led or might lead to acts of violence and repression, serious human rights abuses, or might hamper the search for a political solution” (see previous blog).

EU may extend Burundi sanctions

The EU imposed sanctions on Burundi in October 2015 (see previous blog). It has now said that it “stands ready” to extend those sanctions to “those whose actions might have led or might lead to acts of violence and repression, serious human rights abuses, or might hamper the search for a political solution”.  The announcement comes in light of the EU’s continuing concern at the reports of human rights abuses in Burundi, some of which are said to involve its security forces. The EU press release is here.

In October 2015, the EU imposed targeted sanctions on 4 Burundian nationals whose activities were said to be undermining democracy, through violence and serious human rights violations, following President Nkurunziza’s disputed re-election.  In order to “keep open the channels of dialogue”, President Nkurunziza was not himself sanctioned.

US sanctions on Burundi, Syria & kingpins

Burundi

Obama has signed an Executive Order introducing new US sanctions on Burundi, targeting individuals in the government and armed groups that contribute to the turmoil in Burundi, including by threatening its peace and security, undermining its democratic processes, and committing human rights abuses.  In its press release, the White House says it will “continue to support regional efforts to bring about a political resolution to the crisis in Burundi”.

The new measures impose an asset freeze on and prohibit doing business with:

  1. Alain Bunyoni, Minister of Public Security
  2. Godefroid Bizimana, Deputy Director-General of the National Police
  3. Godefroid Niyombare, Major General, Former Chief of Burundi Intelligence Service
  4. Cyrille Ndayirukiye, Former Minister of Defence

Syria

OFAC has designated 4 people and 6 entities for providing support to the government of Syria, including by facilitating Syrian government oil purchases from ISIL.  The press release is here.

The new listings are:

  1. George Haswani – Assisting the Government of Syria to purchase oil from ISIL, and owns or controls HESCO, a company said to operate energy production facilities in areas controlled by ISIL. Subject to EU sanctions in March 2015
  2. Kirsan Ilyumzhinov – Assisting the Government of Syria, Central Bank of Syria, Adib Mayaleh, and Batoul Rida and has links to Mudalal Khuri. Owns or controls the Russian Financial Alliance Bank, former president of the World Chess Federation.
  3. Mudalal Khuri – Assisting the Government of Syria and owns or controls 5 of the newly listed entities
  4. Nicos Nicolaou – Assisting the Government of Syria and several designated persons
  1. Ezegoo Investments Ltd
  2. Hesco Engineering & Construction Co (HESCO)
  3. Hudsotrade Limited
  4. Kremsont Commercial Inc.
  5. Primax Business Consultants Limited
  6. Russia Financial Alliance Bank

Narcotics

OFAC has designated Guadalupe Fernandez Valencia and Jorge Mario Valenzuela Verdugo as Specially Designated Narcotics Trafficking Kingpins.  The designations are part of OFAC’s efforts to target the criminal network of Mexican drug kingpin Joaquín “El Chapo” Guzmán, head of the Sinaloa Cartel.  In its press release, OFAC states that the two have been charged with drug trafficking and money laundering, and identified as Sinaloa Cartel lieutenants for Guzmán’s son Jesus Alfredo Guzmán.  OFAC Acting Director John Smith adds that they “ultimately bolster the power and influence of Chapo Guzman’s nefarious criminal activities”.

EU Council responds to the crisis in Burundi

The EU Council has published its conclusions on the growing insecurity and increase in violence in Burundi.  The Council reiterated its support for mediation efforts by Uganda and the African Union. The Council is looking to the Government of Burundi immediately to initiate dialogue with all peaceful stakeholders, and warned that while it actively supports all diplomatic efforts to find a consensual solution to the crisis, it stands ready to take further initiatives.  It also welcomed UN Security Council Resolution 2248, unanimously adopted last week, in which the Security Council expressed its intention to consider additional sanctions against all Burundian actors that contribute to the perpetuation of violence, and impede the search for a peaceful solution in the country.

The Council’s conclusions follow:

  • the imposition in October of EU-wide asset freezes and travel bans against 4 people whose activities were said to be undermining democracy in Burundi (see previous blog); and
  • the African Union’s decision at the end of October 2015, to impose targeted sanctions against people and entities involved in the perpetuation of violence or who impede the search for a solution to the country’s crisis (see previous blog).

African Union decides to impose targeted sanctions on Burundi

The Peace and Security Council of the African Union (AU) has decided to impose targeted sanctions, including asset freezes and travel bans, against any person or entity involved in the perpetuation of violence in Burundi or who impedes the search for a solution to the crisis the country is facing (see press release here).  The Council has requested that the AU’s Commission draw up a list of targets.  The Council’s decision follows the EU’s introduction of sanctions against 4 Burundian officials close to the country’s President, Pierre Nkurunziza, at the start of this month (see previous blog).

The African Union’s membership comprises 54 countries in Africa, with Morocco the only African state that is not a member and the membership of Burkina Faso and the Central African Republic suspended due to internal crises. The asset freezes and travel bans are AU-wide.