The General Court of the EU dismissed a case brought by a gold export company Uganda Commercial Impex Ltd to annul its inclusion on the EU’s sanctions on the Democratic Republic of Congo. Judgment here Cases T-107/15 and T-347/15 Uganda Commercial Impex Ltd v Council .
The EU sanctioned Uganda Commercial Impex because the UN Sanctions Committee had said (since 2007) that (inter alia) it “bought gold through a regular commercial relationship with traders in the DRC tightly linked to militias. This constitutes ‘provision of assistance’ to illegal armed groups in breach of the arms embargo”.
The Court said the EU institutions had discharged their duty properly in implementing this UN listing. In particular, the court said listing was justified by the UN panel of expert reports on which it was based (and dismissed grounds for annulment based on the duty give reasons, proportionality and rights of defence). The applicant’s evidence refuting the panel of experts’ report was declared inadmissible because it had not been submitted with the EU court application and because the witness statement was given by one of the company’s directors who therefore has “a direct personal interest in the outcome of the present proceedings” (the Court has taken this approach to witness statements in a few recent sanctions cases).
The EU has amended the entries for 3 entities subject to its sanctions on DPRK, namely Namchongang Trading Corporation, Green Pine Associated Corporation, and Strategic Rocket Force of the Korean People’s Army. It has also deleted the entries for Pak To-Chun, Paek Se-bong, and Strategic Rocket forces from its annexes containing autonomous EU listings, because they are now listed by the UN since June (see previous blog).
See Commission Implementing Regulation 2017/1330 amending Council Regulation 329/2007 and Council Decision (CFSP) 2017/1339 amending Council Decision (CFSP) 2016/849. The UK’s notice is here.
As foreshadowed earlier this week here, the EU has introduced new restrictions on exports to Libya, relating to certain goods which may be used for human smuggling and trafficking. The list of goods is in Annex VII of Regulation 2016/44 as amended. The EU has also continued its sanctions against all currently listed persons (see notice here). Regulation 2017/1325 amending Regulation 2016/44 and Decision 2017/1338 amending Decision 2015/1333.
Democratic Republic of Congo
The EU has implemented UN amendments to the listing criteria for sanctions on the Democratic Republic of Congo to include people involved in planning, sponsoring, or participating in attacks against members of the UN Group of Experts. Regulation 2017/1326 amending Regulation 1183/2005 and Decision 2017/1340 amending Decision 2010/788/CFSP.
The EU has informed the Democratic Republic of Congo that it is ready to impose new targeted sanctions in response to the serious human rights violations that have recently occurred in the country, the refusal of President Joseph Kabila to stand down at the end of his term, and the general blockage of the December 2016 political agreement. The Council has invited the High Representative to initiate work on new measures which would target those responsible for the human rights violations or incitements to violence, and those obstructing a consensual and peaceful solution to the crisis in DRC. The Council’s press release is here.
The EU has updated the identifying information for 21 people and 1 entity listed on its sanctions on the Democratic Republic of Congo, in line with changes made by the UN to its own listings in October last year. See Implementing Regulation 2017/199 implementing Regulation 1183/2005 and Implementing Decision 2017/203 implementing Decision 2010/788/CFSP. The EU’s notices to the persons in question are here and here.
OFAC has added 2 Democratic Republic of the Congo government officials to its SDN list. The details are here.
Evariste Boshab is said to be a key player in leading President Kabila’s strategy to remain in power after his constitutional term ends on 19 December 2016, and to have supported the neutralisation of opposition demonstrations. Kalev Mutondo is said to have ordered officials to ensure that the DRC’s electoral process favours President Kabila, and the surveillance and extrajudicial arrest and detainment of opposition members, many of whom are reported to have been tortured.
In June 2016, the UN Security Council expressed concern over the arrest of political opposition members in the DRC and urged the President to observe the DRC constitution by holding elections before the end of the year.
The EU has added 7 people said to hold high positions of authority in the Congolese security forces to its sanctions against the Democratic Republic of the Congo. The new listings follow acts of violence in September, which caused the death of at least 50 people and were allegedly perpetrated by the security forces. In its press release, the EU called upon the Government of the DRC to cooperate with an independent investigation into the violence, and said that “additional restrictive measures may be considered in the event of further violence or the political process being impeded”.
See Regulation 2016/2230 amending Regulation 1183/2005 and Decision 2016/2231 amending Decision 2010/788/CFSP.
OFAC has designated 2 people on its Democratic Republic of the Congo sanctions, for their alleged role in undermining democracy and repressing political rights and freedoms in the DRC.
Major General Gabriel Amisi Kumba is a Commander in the DRC’s armed forces, whose units are said to have engaged in the violent repression of political demonstrations, including through the use of lethal weapons. General John Numbi is the former National Inspector for DRC’s police force, and is said to have used violent intimidation to secure victories for candidates affiliated with President Kabila’s coalition in March 2016’s gubernatorial elections. Numbi reportedly threatened to kill opposition candidates, attempted to fix ballots, and remains an influential advisor to the President.
The State Department has also designated Anas el-Abboubi, an Italian rapper, as a Specially Designated Global Terrorist. Mr El-Abboubi is said to have fled to Syria to join ISIL, after having been released from police custody for plotting a terror attack in Italy and recruiting individuals for military activity abroad.
In June, the UN updated the designation criteria and derogations in its Democratic Republic of the Congo sanctions regime (see Resolution 2293), and the EU has now implemented those changes. The UN also extended its regime until 1 July 2017.
The examples of acts that meet the designation criterion of undermining the peace, stability, or security of the DRC have been expanded. They now include all persons involved in human rights abuses or violations of international humanitarian law in the DRC, previously only those targeting women and children, and people illicitly exploiting the country’s national resources, previously only those illicitly trading in them. Designated persons are subject to an EU-wide asset freeze and travel ban.
The derogations from the arms embargo on the DRC, which has not applied to the DRC’s government since 2008, now allow for all sales and supply of arms and related material to the DRC, and the provision of related technical or financial assistance, but require that they be approved in advance by the UN’s Sanctions Committee if not specifically authorised under another derogation.
See Regulation 2016/1165 amending Regulation 1183/2005 and Decision 2016/1173 amending Decision 2010/788/CFSP.