International Sanctions March 2021

2021-04-27

INTERNATIONAL SANCTIONS MARCH 2021

EUROPEAN UNION
 

AL QAEDA / DAESH

 

  • On 30 March 2021, Commission Implementing Regulation (EU) 2021/549[1] amending Annex I of Regulation (EC) 2002/881 was published in the Official Journal of the European Union.

 

This change modifies the identification data of eight (8) sanctioned natural persons.

 

BOSNIA AND HERZEGOVINA

 

  • On 29 March 2021, Council Decision (CFSP) 2021/543[2] amending Decision (CFSP) 2011/173 was published in the Official Journal of the European Union.

 

This amendment extends the application of the above-mentioned Decision (CFSP) 2011/173 until 31 March 2022.

 

CHINA

 

  • On 22 March 2021, Council Implementing Regulation (EU) 2021/478[3] and Council Decision (CFSP) 2021/481[4] amending, respectively, Council Regulation (EU) 2020/1998 and Council Decision (CFSP) 2020/1999 were published in the Official Journal of the European Union.

 

The amendments include three (3) Chinese individuals and one (1) Chinese entity on the list of persons sanctioned as “responsible for serious human rights violations in China, in particular arbitrary mass arrests of Uighurs and persons of other Muslim ethnic minorities, degrading treatment of them and systematic violations of their freedom of conscience and religion”.

 

NORTH KOREA

 

  • On 22 March 2021, Council Implementing Regulation (EU) 2021/478[5] and Council Decision (CFSP) 2021/481[6] amending, respectively, Council Regulation (EU) 2020/1998 and Council Decision (CFSP) 2020/1999 were published in the Official Journal of the European Union.

 

These amendments add two (2) North Korean individuals and one (1) North Korean entity to the list of persons sanctioned for serious human rights violations.

 

EGYPT

 

  • On 15 March 2021, Council Regulation (EU) 2021/445[7] and Council Decision (CFSP) 2021/449[8] repealing, respectively, Council Regulation (EU) 2011/270 and Council Decision (CFSP) 2011/172 were published in the Official Journal of the European Union.

 

ERITREA

 

  • On 22 March 2021, Council Implementing Regulation (EU) 2021/478[9] and Council Decision (CFSP) 2021/481[10] amending, respectively, Council Regulation (EU) 2020/1998 and Council Decision (CFSP) 2020/1999 were published in the Official Journal of the European Union.

 

By these amendments, one (1) entity has been added to the list of sanctioned persons as “responsible for serious human rights violations in Eritrea, in particular arbitrary arrests, extrajudicial killings and enforced disappearances of persons”.

 

LIBYA

 

  • On 22 March 2021, Council Implementing Regulation (EU) 2021/478[11] and Council Decision (CFSP) 2021/481[12] amending, respectively, Council Regulation (EU) 2020/1998 and Council Decision (CFSP) 2020/1999 were published in the Official Journal of the European Union.

 

By these amendments, two (2) Lebanese individuals and one (1) entity have been added to the list of sanctioned persons for being responsible for serious human rights abuses, in particular extrajudicial killings and enforced disappearances of persons.

 

  • On 29 March 2021, Council Implementing Regulation (EU) 2021/539[13] amending Annex III of Regulation (EU) 2016/44 was published in the Official Journal of the European Union

 

This amendment removes one (1) natural person of Lebanese nationality from the list of sanctioned persons.

 

MYANMAR

 

  • On 22 March 2021, Council Regulation (EU) 2021/479[14] and Council Decision (CFSP) 2021/482[15] amending, respectively, Council Regulation (EU) 2013/401 and Council Decision (CFSP) 2013/184 were published in the Official Journal of the European Union.

 

The amendments will sanction “natural persons in the Myanmar Armed Forces, Police Force and Border Guards responsible for serious violations of human rights in Myanmar; and natural and legal persons, entities or bodies whose actions, policies or activities undermine democracy or the rule of law in Myanmar or who undertake actions that threaten the peace, security or stability of the country”.

 

 

  • On 22 March 2021, Council Regulation (EU) 2021/480[16] and Council Decision (CFSP) 2021/483[17]  amending, respectively, Council Regulation (EU) 2013/401 and Council Decision (CFSP) 2013/184 were published in the Official Journal of the European Union.

 

These amendments include eleven (11) natural persons of Burmese nationality on the Sanctions List for being responsible for serious human rights violations and abuses and for contributing to the overthrow of the democratically elected government in Myanmar, undermining democracy and the rule of law.

 

RUSSIA

 

  • On 2 March 2021, Council Regulation (EU) 2021/371[18] and Council Decision (CFSP) 2021/372[19] amending, respectively, Annex I to Regulation (EU) 2020/1998 and the Annex to Decision (CFSP) 2020/1999 were published in the Official Journal of the European Union.

 

These amendments include four (4) natural persons of Russian nationality on the list of persons sanctioned for “continuing serious human rights violations in Russia” in connection with the detention of Russian opposition politician Alexei Navalny.

 

  • On 15 March 2021, Council Regulation (EU) 2021/446[20] and Council Decision (CFSP) 2021/448[21] amending, respectively, Annex I to Regulation (EU) 2014/269 and the second paragraph of Article 6 of Decision (CFSP) 2014/145 were published in the Official Journal of the European Union.

 

This amends the information concerning eighteen (18) natural persons and eleven (11) Russian entities and extends the application of the above Decision until 15 September 2021.

 

  • On 22 March 2021, Council Implementing Regulation (EU) 2021/478[22] and Council Decision (CFSP) 2021/481[23] amending, respectively, Council Regulation (EU) 2020/1998 and Council Decision (CFSP) 2020/1999 were published in the Official Journal of the European Union.

 

These amendments include two (2) natural persons of Russian nationality on the list of sanctioned persons for being “responsible for serious violations of human rights in Russia, in particular torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment”.

 

 

SOUTHERN SUDAN

 

  • On 22 March 2021, Council Implementing Regulation (EU) 2021/478[24] and Council Decision (CFSP) 2021/481[25] amending, respectively, Council Regulation (EU) 2020/1998 and Council Decision (CFSP) 2020/1999 were published in the Official Journal of the European Union.

 

These amendments include one (1) natural person of South Sudanese nationality on the list of sanctioned persons for being responsible for serious human rights violations.

 

UKRAINE                                                                  

 

  • On 5 March 2021, Council Implementing Regulation (EU) 2021/391[26] and Council Decision (CFSP) 2021/394[27] amending, respectively, Annex I of Regulation (EU) 2014/208 and the second paragraph of Article 5 of Decision (CFSP) 2014/119 were published in the Official Journal of the European Union.

 

These amendments remove two (2) natural persons of Ukrainian nationality from the list of sanctioned persons and extend the application of this Decision until 6 March 2020.

 

 

YEMEN

 

  • On 5 March 2021, Council Implementing Regulation (EU) 2021/397[28] and Council Implementing Decision (CFSP) 2021/398[29] amending, respectively, Annex I to Regulation (EU) 2014/1352 and the Annex to Decision (CFSP) 2014/932 were published in the Official Journal of the European Union.

 

These amendments add one (1) natural person of Yemeni nationality to the list of persons sanctioned for “engaging in acts that threaten the peace, security and stability of Yemen”.

 

UNITED STATES

 

CHINA

 

  • On 22 March 2021, the Office of Foreign Assets Control (“OFAC”), pursuant to Executive Order 13818 of 20 December 2017, has added two (2) Chinese natural persons to the Specially Designated Nationals and Blocked Persons List (“SDN List”) for, as government officials, being responsible for serious human rights abuses against ethnic minorities in the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region.

 

CUBA

 

  • On 2 March 2021, the US State Department reported on Cuba’s banking system and illicit drug activity. It notes that Cuban financial practices and US sanctions continue to prevent the Cuban banking system from fully integrating into the international financial system. The centralised economy allows for little and highly regulated private activity. However, a significant black market operates in parallel, “heavily subsidised and rationed, dominated by the state and in which state authorities are actively involved”.

 

  • On 3 March 2021, President Biden declared that “Venezuela continues to pose an unusual and extraordinary threat to the national security and foreign policy of the United States”. He has thus determined it necessary to continue the national emergency declared in Executive Order 13692 with respect to the situation in Venezuela.

 

  • On 3 March 2021, the White House issued an interim strategic national security guidance to “provide Central America with $4 billion in assistance over four years, and take other steps to address the root causes of human insecurity and irregular migration“. The list includes 19 countries, which do not include Cuba or Venezuela.

 

  • On 4 March 2021, an article has been published on Cubatrade.org regarding the consequences of Cuba’s inclusion on the list of state sponsors of terrorism and the illegal basis for the designation.

 

As is well known, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo re-designated Cuba as a state sponsor of terrorism. With regard to the consequences, the article states that the economic sanctions to which Cuba is subjected as a result of its designation are not as harmful as it might seem, given that the US embargo on Cuba already prohibited trade with the island nation.

 

However, in addition to the economic issues, there is a legal consequence of Cuba’s inclusion on the aforementioned list. The designation makes Cuba subject to lawsuits in US courts that would otherwise be dismissed on the basis of sovereign immunity. A country designated as a state sponsor of terrorism can be sued under the Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act for executions and injuries if it was (i) designated as a sponsor of terrorism at the time of the murder or injury and (ii) the victim was a US citizen. Florida courts have awarded more than 4 billion dollars against Cuba as a result of claims that do not meet the requirements set out in the aforementioned Act. Interest on these awards is 11% per year.

 

On the other hand, the article adds that the designation of Cuba as a state sponsor of terrorism has an illegal basis. The reasons for the designation are twofold: Cuba’s refusal to extradite members of the National Liberation Army guerrilla group and its refusal to extradite US fugitives to the United States. The US government cannot designate a nation as a supporter of terrorism simply because it does or does not surrender fugitives on criminal charges. Many countries, including, for example, Russia and China, have not signed such extradition treaties with the United States, so the US cannot demand the return of US fugitives. The right of a foreign sovereign state to demand and obtain the extradition of an accused criminal is created by treaty; in the absence of a treaty there is no obligation to extradite. Therefore, the reasons for the designation of Cuba as a state sponsor of terrorism do not appear to be sufficiently strong.

 

  • On 5 March 2021, the thirty-fourth lawsuit based on Title III of the H-B Act was filed. The multinational Trafigura Group Pte Ltd. is being sued for the use of two ports and other “confiscated” mining assets.

 

  • On 6 March 2021, a report has been published on Cubatrade.org regarding exports of agricultural and food products from the United States to Cuba. According to the report, exports of these products have increased by 41.7% in January 2021 compared to January 2020.

 

  • On 9 March 2021, the US Secretary of Homeland Security announced the designation of Venezuela for Temporary Protected Status (“EPT”). This designation demonstrates the United States’ continued support for the people of Venezuela. In announcing EPT for Venezuela, the Biden Administration made no mention of Cuba, leading to speculation that it may be sending a message to that country.

 

  • On 9 March 2021, the Biden Administration addressed the inclusion of Cuba on the list of state sponsors of terrorism by the previous administration. In this respect, he has stated that policy towards Cuba will be governed by support for democracy and human rights. Furthermore, the White House has indicated that a change in policy towards Cuba is not currently among President Biden’s main priorities, but they are committed to reviewing the policy decisions taken by the previous administration, including the designation of Cuba as a state sponsor of terrorism.

 

  • Dated 10 March 2021, the H-B Act plaintiffs against Expedia Group, Hotels.com, Booking Holdings and Orbitz have argued that they have “constitutional standing” and that the previous injunction was “eerily short-sighted”.

 

It should be recalled that the defendants had requested the dismissal of the claim for “lack of constitutional standing” of the plaintiffs, on the basis that there was no causal link between the damage caused to the plaintiffs and the “trafficking” of the properties by the defendants.

 

  • On 11 March 2021, three members of the US Senate said they would oppose any motion to seek unanimous consent on legislation amending US law towards Cuba, believing that “the Cuban people deserve no less than the most rudimentary foundations of a free society”.

 

  • On 11 March 2021, the Cuban government announced that it will promote projects valued at less than USD 1 million to attract investment from Cubans living outside the country. Some had already shown interest in investing in the country, but were not convinced by the government’s multi-million dollar projects that they had previously proposed. With these smaller projects, the aim is to alleviate the serious economic crisis in which Cuba is immersed, with a decline in GDP of 11% in 2020.

 

  • On 15 March 2021, the Latin American Financial Action Task Force, whose purpose is to work to develop and implement a global strategy to combat money laundering and terrorist financing, published a report stating that Cuba is making progress in strengthening measures to combat money laundering and terrorist financing.

 

  • An article has been published on Cubatrade.org dated 16 March 2021 regarding the impact on negotiations for certified claimants of Cuba’s designation as a State Sponsor of Terrorism. When Cuba was on the State Sponsors of Terrorism List from 1982 to 2015, claimants won eleven (11) lawsuits using the terrorism exception to the Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act. With the Trump Administration’s inclusion of Cuba on the List, any person subject to the jurisdiction of the United States who believes he or she has a personal claim against the Government of Cuba for acts of terrorism may file a lawsuit in state or federal court seeking damages from the Cuban Government.

 

  • Dated 17 March 2021, the US government has reported that Cuba sought to support Biden and “undermine” Trump and the Republicans in the 2020 elections. “We assess that Cuba sought to undermine former President Trump’s electoral prospects by pushing anti-Republican and pro-Democratic narratives in the Latin American community. Cuban intelligence likely conducted some low-level activities in support of that objective.”

 

  • On 17 March 2021, the plaintiff María Dolores Cantó Martí requested the Court to lift the stay of the proceedings in relation to the claim based on the H-B Act against Iberostar Hoteles y Apartamentos S.L.

 

On 23 April 2020, the defendant Iberostar applied for a stay of proceedings to obtain a ruling from the European Commission on its application for leave to file a response to the complaint. The Court of First Instance stayed the proceedings. The applicant is now requesting that the stay be lifted as it considers that it can continue indefinitely. “Given the EU’s new opposition to the H-B Act, such authorisation may never come. Or, at best, such authorisation will be significantly delayed”.

 

  • On 17 March 2021, two new H-B Act claims were filed by North American Sugar Industries Inc. against DSV Air & Sea Inc. and BBC Chartering USA, LLC. This brings the total number of H-B Act claims to thirty-six (36) as of May 2019.

 

  • On 19 March 2021, the UK Government authorised Imperial Brands to defend the H.B. Act claim under the Protection of Business Interests Regulations 2021.

 

  • On 23 March 2021, an article has been published on Cubatrade.org regarding the NATO ministerial meeting to be attended by the US Secretary of State. Speculation is rife as to whether issues related to H-B Act claims and US-Cuba relations will be discussed. In the third month of the Biden Administration, Cuba has barely been mentioned in the US President’s official readings.

 

  • On 23 March 2021, an article has been published on Cubatrade.org regarding the impact of the H-B Act on the annual reports of EU and UK companies. The British company Imperial Brands estimates that the demand could potentially reach around 365 million dollars. Meliá Hoteles, for its part, considers in its annual report that the proceedings for which it is being sued will not result in any capital losses for the group. Finally, the German company Trivago considers that they have meritorious defences to the claims raised although “there can be no guarantee that there will not be an adverse outcome in any of these lawsuits”.

 

  • On 23 March 2021, the Swiss defendant LafargeHolcim and the US plaintiff have agreed to a private mediation in the H-B Act lawsuit on 22 April 2021.

 

  • On 24 March 2021, news was released about the lawsuits filed by Havana Docks Corporation (“Havana Docks”) against four cruise lines: Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings, LTD., Royal Caribbean Cruises, LTD., MSC Cruises SA CO and MSC Cruises and Carnival Corporation D/B/A/ Carnival Cruise Lines.

 

Havana Docks has filed a petition with the various courts alleging that the defendants have failed to provide documentation relevant to the respective cases. According to Havana Docks’ petition, a suing party cannot invoke the “attorney-client privilege” not to provide documentation reflecting its knowledge of the applicable law. Therefore, Havana Docks asks the Court to require the companies to provide documentation reflecting their knowledge of the H-B Act and OFAC regulations.

 

  • On 25 March 2021, an article was published on Cubatrade.org reporting on the visit of US Secretary of State Antony Blinken to Brussels. During this visit, Blinken met separately with the President of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen, and with the High Representative of the European Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy and Vice-President of the European Commission Josep Borrell.

 

According to an EU spokesperson, Blinken and Borrell discussed Venezuela at their meeting, agreeing to work in coordination, while Cuba and the H-B law were not discussed on this occasion.

 

ITALY

 

  • On 31 March 2021, OFAC, by virtue of Executive Order 13850 of 1 November 2018, has removed four (4) natural persons of Italian nationality from the SDN List.

 

MEXICO

 

  • On 3 March 2021, OFAC, pursuant to the Foreign Narcotics Kingpin Designation Act (“Kingpin Act”), added one (1) natural person of Mexican nationality to the SDN List for “materially assisting, providing financial or technological support to, or providing goods and services in support of international drug trafficking activities of the Jalisco Cartel – New Generation (CJNG), a violent Mexican drug trafficking organisation”.

 

MOZAMBIQUE

 

  • As of 10 March 2021, OFAC has added one (1) Mozambican entity to the Specially Designated Global Terrorist (“SDGT List”).

 

MYANMAR

 

  • On 10 March 2021, OFAC, pursuant to Executive Order 14014 of 10 February 2021, added two (2) natural persons of Burmese nationality and six (6) entities controlled by such natural persons to the SDN List for their participation in the Burmese military’s coup d’état against the democratically elected civilian government.

 

  • On 22 March 2021, OFAC, by virtue of Executive Order 14014 of 10 February 2021, added two (2) Burmese natural persons and two (2) Burmese entities to the SDN List for links to the Burmese military and its violent repression of peaceful demonstrators.

 

  • On 25 March 2021, OFAC, by virtue of Executive Order 14014 of 10 February 2021, added two (2) Burmese entities to the SDN List for being the main economic resources of the Burmese military regime responsible for the overthrow of the democratically elected government and the repression of the Burmese people.

 

RUSSIA

 

  • On 2 March 2021 OFAC has issued General License No. 1B authorising transactions and activities with the Russian Federal Security Service prohibited by Executive Order 13694, as amended by Executive Order 13757, of 28 December 2016, the Cyber-Related Sanctions Regulations (CRSR), 31 C. F.R. part 578, the Weapons of Mass Destruction Proliferators Sanctions Regulations (WMDPSR), 31 C.F.R. part 544 or the Countering America’s Adversaries Through Sanctions Act (CAATSA) (22 U.S.C. 9524), provided that they are timely and necessary to “apply for, receive, use, pay for, or deal with licenses, permits, certifications, or notifications issued and registered by the Federal Security Service for the importation, distribution, or use of information technology products in the Russian Federation, provided that (i) the export, re-export, or provision of any goods or technology that is subject to the Export Administration Regulations, 15 CFR parts 730 through 774, is licensed or authorised by the Department of Commerce; and (ii) the payment of any fees to the Federal Security Service for such licenses, permits, certifications, or notifications does not exceed $5. 5,000 in a calendar year”.

 

  • On 2 March 2021, OFAC, pursuant to Executive Order 13661, dated 16 March 2014, added seven (7) natural persons of Russian nationality to the SDN List for “serving as Russian government officials” in response to “the poisoning and subsequent imprisonment of Russian opposition politician Alexei Navalny”.

 

In addition, OFAC, pursuant to Executive Order 13382 of 29 June 2005, has added three (3) Russian entities to the SDN List for “having engaged, or attempting to engage, in activities and transactions that have materially contributed, or posed a risk of contributing, to the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction or their means of delivery, including any attempt to manufacture, acquire, possess, develop, transport, transfer, or use any such items by Russia”.

 

TANZANIA

 

  • As of 10 March 2021, OFAC has added one (1) natural person of Tanzanian nationality to the Specially Designated Global Terrorist (“SDGT List”).

 

YEMEN

 

  • On 2 March 2021, OFAC, pursuant to Executive Order 13611 of 16 May 2012, added two (2) natural persons of Yemeni nationality to the SDN List for “having engaged in acts that directly or indirectly threaten the peace, security or stability of Yemen, such as acts that obstruct the implementation of the 23 November 2011 agreement between the Government of Yemen and those in opposition to it, which ensures a peaceful transition of power in Yemen, or obstructing the political process in Yemen”.

 

UNITED KINGDOM

 

CHINA

 

  • On 22 March 2021, the UK Government, by virtue of The Global Human Rights Sanctions Regulation (“GHRSR”) of 6 July 2020, has added to the UK Sanctions List (“UKSL List”) four (4) Chinese individuals and one (1) Chinese entity as being responsible for the administration of China’s so-called “re-education” policy and, have therefore been responsible for serious violations of the right not to be subjected to torture and cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment which have taken place in the so-called “training centres”. The sanction imposed consists of an asset freeze and a travel ban for the natural persons and an asset freeze for the entity.

 

MYANMAR

 

  • On 25 March 2021, the UK Government, under the GHRSR, has added one (1) Burmese entity to the UKSL List for providing financial support to the Burmese military forces, contributing those funds to operations that resulted in serious human rights violations. The sanction imposed is an asset freeze.

 

SYRIA

 

  • On 15 March 2021, the UK Government, pursuant to The Syria (Sanctions) (EU Exit) Regulations of 31 December 2020, added six (6) individuals of Syrian nationality to the UKSL List for being responsible for the Syrian regime’s violent repression against the civilian population. The sanction imposed consists of an asset freeze and a travel ban.

 

SUDAN

 

  • On 8 March 2021, the UK Government, pursuant to The Sudan (Sanctions) (EU Exit) Regulations of 31 December 2020, has removed one (1) natural person from the UKSL List.

 

CHINA

 

UNITED KINGDOM

 

  • On 27 March 2021, the Chinese government sanctioned nine (9) individuals and four (4) entities, all of them British, for “lying and spreading disinformation about China”. The origin of the dispute stems from the sanction imposed by the United Kingdom on 22 March 2021 on four (4) Chinese individuals and one (1) entity for “serious human rights violations.”

 

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[1] Commission Implementing Regulation (EU) 2021/549 of 29 March 2021 amending for the 319th time Council Regulation (EC) No 881/2002 imposing certain specific restrictive measures directed against certain persons and entities associated with ISIL (Da’esh) and Al-Qaida organisations.

[2] Council Decision (CFSP) 2021/543 of 26 March 2021 amending Decision 2011/173/CFSP concerning restrictive measures in view of the situation in Bosnia and Herzegovina.

[3] Council Implementing Regulation (EU) 2021/478 of 22 March 2021 implementing Regulation (EU) 2020/1998 concerning restrictive measures against serious violations and abuses of human rights.

[4] Council Decision (CFSP) 2021/481 of 22 March 2021 amending Decision (CFSP) 2020/1999 concerning restrictive measures against serious violations and abuses of human rights.