EU Court upholds conflict diamonds CAR asset freeze

Companies buying and selling diamonds challenged the EU implementation of their UN sanctions listing in 2015 for “providing support for armed groups or criminal networks through the illicit exploitation or trade of natural resources in the Central African Republic”. Badica and Kardiam said the EU had not established that those grounds were correct, and that the EU had simply reproduced the UN Security Council’s reasoning, without performing its own analysis.  The EU General Court has rejected their claim, finding that even though there was insufficient evidence to establish support to armed groups through trade in goods, there was sufficient evidence that Badica and Kardiam had continued to buy diamonds from the CAR after the export ban imposed by the Kimberley process.  The judgment is here – Case T-619/15 Central African Republic Diamond Purchasing Office v Council and the Court’s press release is here.

EU implements UN additions to its terrorism and CAR sanctions

The EU has added Fared Saal to its sanctions on ISIL & Al-Qaida, implementing a UN listing from earlier this month.  Fared Saal is said to be a member of ISIL, who has taken part in attacks that led to the deaths of large numbers of civilians. See Commission Implementing Regulation 2017/1094 amending Council Regulation 881/2002.

It has also implemented the UN’s listing of Hissene Abdoulaye on its sanctions against the Central African Republic (see previous blog).  He is said to have become one of the main leaders of armed militias in the country’s capital Bangui. See Council Implementing Regulation (EU) 2017/1090 implementing Council Regulation 224/2014 and Council Implementing Decision 2017/1103 implementing Council Decision 2013/798/CFSP.

UK implements UN CAR listing

The UK has added Hissene Abdoulaye to its consolidated list of Central African Republic sanctions targets so he is now subject to an asset freeze.  He was added to the UN’s sanctions last month (see previous blog).  He has not yet been added to the EU’s CAR sanctions list implementing UN listings. HM Treasury’s notice is here.

USA – Zimbabwe de-listing & CAR designations

Zimbabwe

OFAC has removed Zimbabwe’s former Minister of Water Resources Munacho Mutezo from its SDN List. Mr Mutezo’s removal follows his expulsion from the ZANU-PF party for supporting Joice Mujuru, former Vice-President who was expelled following accusations that he tried to depose President Mugabe. The circumstances of Mr Mutezo’s de-listing are similar those of Sylvester Nguni in November 2016, another former ZANU-PF member who, like Mr Mutezo, joined the opposition party Zimbabwe People First after his explusion from ZANU-PF (see previous blog).

Central African Republic

OFAC has designated Abdoulaya Hissene and Maxime Mokom under its CAR sanctions for engaging in actions that threaten the peace, security, or stability of the CAR. They are both said to have been involved in failed coup attempts, preventing people from voting, and lethal violence involving civilians and security forces.

EU implements UN designations of Joseph Kony’s sons

The EU has added two of Joseph Kony’s sons, both of whom hold senior positions in the Lord’s Resistance Army, to its sanctions against the Central African Republic.  Ali Kony and Salim Kony were listed by the UN and US last month, following the listing of Joseph Kony and the LRA in March (see previous blog).  See Council Implementing Regulation (EU) 2016/1442 implementing Regulation 224/2014 and Council Implementing Decision (CFSP) 2016/1446 implementing Decision 2013/798/CFSP.

US adds sons of Joseph Kony to CAR sanctions

635px-central_african_republic_in_africa_-mini_map_-rivers-svg_-150x150Yesterday the USA (OFAC) designated Salim and Ali Kony, both sons of the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) leader Joseph Kony, pursuant to Executive Order 13667, for acting for or on behalf of the LRA and/or Joseph Kony.  On 8 March 2016, OFAC designated the LRA and Joseph Kony for engaging in the targeting of civilians in the Central African Republic (CAR) through the commission of acts of violence, abduction, and forced displacement. Press release here.  Previous blog on Joseph Kony’s US designation here and EU here.
E.O. 13667 (the legal basis for these sanctions) dates from 12 May 2014 and authorises the US Treasury to impose sanctions on those who threaten the peace, security, or stability of the CAR, obstruct the peace process in the CAR, recruit child soldiers, target peacekeepers, fuel the conflict in the CAR through the illicit trade of natural resources, or are responsible for human rights abuses or other atrocities in the CAR.

EU Scrutiny committee refuses to clear some EU sanctions

The House of Commons European Scrutiny committee has published its conclusions on recent EU sanctions measures relating to Iran, Central African Republic, Burma/Myanmar, and Ukraine & Russia.  It has not cleared them all…

Iran

Considering the EU’s decision in April 2016 to re-list Bank Saderat with new reasons on its Iran sanctions, after the bank had the annulment of its prior sanctions listing upheld by the Court of Justice (see previous blog), the Committee declined to clear the related measures from scrutiny.  It said that Minister for Europe David Lidington had not provided an explanation as to why the Council considered that the new listing would be any more likely to withstand challenge than the previous one, adding that lack of any explanation in respect of the “barely discernible” changes gave rise to the inference that the new listing was an artificial legal device to prolong sanctions with a weak legal foundation.

Central African Republic

The Committee cleared the EU’s decision in April to make minor amendments to the derogations under its arms embargo on the CAR and update the designation criteria for its asset freeze and travel ban, primarily to reflect that elections had taken place in the country (see previous blog).  However, the committee objected to its scrutiny having been overridden in this case, distinguishing it from the EU measures targeting Joseph Kony (see previous blog) that it cleared last month.  It stated that the override of its scrutiny was “part and parcel of a policy adopted recently by the Minister”, by which he is “deliberately undermining scrutiny” by the House of Commons.

Burma/Myanmar

The EU’s decision to extend its sanctions against Burma for a further 12 months, until 30 April 2017 (see previous blog), was cleared of scrutiny by the Committee.  It noted the ongoing challenge posed by the influence that the Burmese military retains in government, and concerns about Burma’s human rights situation, and asked the Minister to report back to it on an upcoming meeting of the EU-Myanmar Human Rights Dialogue.

Ukraine & Russia

The Committee has called for the Commons to debate the wider context of the EU’s economic and sectoral sanctions against Russia, which the Minister has said should be extended in July in view of the fact that the Minsk peace agreements have yet to be implemented in full.  In the meantime, the Committee has kept under scrutiny the EU’s decision to extend its targeted sanctions against people undermining the sovereignty of Ukraine until 15 September 2016 (see previous blog).

EU amends Central African Republic sanctions

The EU has added amended its CAR sanctions in 2 ways:

  1. It has amended the derogations to its arms embargo and added a new one, which allows for technical assistance, financing, or brokering services to be provided where they relate to the supply of non-lethal equipment and the provision of assistance (including training for the CAR security forces) intended solely to support the process of Security Sector Reform, in coordination with the UN’s peacekeeping operation and provided the UN Sanctions Committee has been notified in advance.  The amendments expressly allow for the provision of training relating to the supply of non-lethal military equipment for strictly humanitarian or protective use. They also add a requirement to notify the UN Sanctions Committee in advance when taking advantage of the derogation allowing small arms and related equipment to be provided for international patrols providing security in the Sangha River Protected Area.
  2. It has amended the designation criteria for targeted asset freezes and travel bans to:
    1. shorten the fundamental designation criterion from “persons designated by the Committee as persons engaging in or providing support for acts that undermine the peace, stability, or security of the CAR” to “persons designated by the Committee” for being involved in one of several specific activities, which are “engaging in or providing support for acts that undermine the peace, stability, or security of the CAR” and the examples given previously under the former criterion; and
    2. change the specific examples of acts that undermine the peace, stability, or security of the CAR from “acts that threaten or violate transitional agreements, or that threaten or impede the political transition process, including a transition towards free and fair democratic elections, or that fuel violence” to “acts that undermine the peace, stability or security of the Central African Republic, including acts that threaten or impede the political transition process, or the stabilisation and reconciliation process or that fuel violence”.

See Regulation 2016/555 amending Regulation 224/2014 and Decision (CFSP) 2016/564 amending Decision 2013/798/CFSP.