The General Court of the EU has just annulled targeted sanctions on George Haswani, because the evidence the EU Council relied on in court did not provide any support for the reasons it had given for including him in the EU’s targeted sanctions on Syria – Case T-231/15 Haswani v Council . Mr Haswani was included for being an “important Syrian businessman”, co-owner of an engineering and construction company that has ties with the Syrian regime, for being an intermediary with the regime in oil contracts, and enjoying favourable treatment from the regime through Stoytransgaz, a Russian oil company. The Court, after a detailed analysis of all the evidence put forward by the Council, concluded that the evidence it relied on was vague and general and did not substantiate the reasons given for his inclusion.
The Court rejected Mr Haswani’s claim for damages resulting from his unlawful EU listing because he had not demonstrated that the losses he claimed were caused by the imposition of EU sanctions. The Court also rejected his challenge to subsequent amended sanctions relating to him because he had not properly amended his pleadings to challenge those measures.
The EU Council has decided to impose an asset freeze and travel ban on 4 high-ranking Syrian military officials, who allegedly played a role in the use of chemical weapons against the civilian population in Syria. The additions bring the total number of people listed on the sanctions to 239, in addition to 67 entities. See Implementing Regulation (EU) 2017/480 implementing Regulation 36/2012 and Implementing Decision 2017/485 implementing Decision 2013/255/CFSP.
Russia and China have vetoed a draft UN resolution put forward by the US, UK, and France that would have prohibited the sale of helicopters to Syria and sanctioned 11 Syrian commanders or officials and 10 entities linked to chemical weapon attacks in the country (see previous blog). Russian President Vladimir Putin described the draft resolution as “totally inappropriate”, and China said that while it opposed the use of chemical weapons it was too early to act as the international investigation into the attacks was ongoing. It is the 7th time Russia has vetoed a UN resolution on Syria, and the 6th time for China.
OFAC has designated 18 senior Syrian officials said to be connected to Syria’s weapons of mass destruction programme, and 5 military branches that it has identified as part of the Government of Syria (details here). The designations of the 18 officials follow a joint investigation by the UN and the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons, which concluded that the Syrian government was responsible for at least 3 attacks involving chlorine gas. The investigation prompted the UK and France to draft a UN resolution calling for new sanctions on Syria (see previous blog), which has yet to be voted on.
Britain and France are reported to be suggesting a UN Security Council resolution to prohibit countries from supplying the Syrian government with helicopters, and to impose targeted sanctions on 11 Syrian individuals and 10 entities said to be involved in chemical weapons attacks in Syria. A draft resolution prepared by Britain and France follows a joint investigation by the UN and the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons, which concluded that the Syrian government was responsible for at least 3 attacks involving chlorine gas. Russia has repeatedly questioned the investigation’s conclusions.
North Korea: The Council welcomed the latest round of UN sanctions on N Korea (see previous blog) and says it will consider new restrictive measures.
South Sudan: The Council states that it is ready to impose further autonomous restrictive measures on “any individual who obstructs the peace process, impedes UNMINSS in the performance of its mandate, prevents actors from exercising their humanitarian duties, incites ethnic hatred, or commits atrocities against civilians”.
Syria: The EU’s High Representative, Federica Mogherini, has said the EU intends to impose further restrictive measures targeting Syrian individuals and entities “supporting the regime” for as long as it continues to repress civilians and violate human rights.
The EU has amended its sanctions on Syria to allow for the otherwise prohibited purchase or transportation of oil and petroleum products in Syria, where the sole purpose is to provide humanitarian relief or assistance to the Syrian population. The amendments also introduce a corresponding derogation from the asset freeze and travel ban. The authorisation provided for by the amendments is available to entities in receipt of public funding for providing aid to Syria, and other entities authorised by Member States.
See Council Regulation 2016/2137 amending Council Regulation 36/2012, and Council Decision 2016/2144 amending Council Decision 2013/255/CFSP.