29 Restrictive measures against Syria |
||Legally and politically important |
|Committee's decision||Cleared from scrutiny (decision reported on 21 January 2015)
|Document details||(a) Council Implementing Decision implementing Decision 2013/255/CFSP concerning restrictive measures against Syria (b) Council Implementing Regulation implementing Regulation (EU) No. 36/2012 concerning restrictive measures in view of the situation in Syria
|Legal base||(a) Article 29 TEU; unanimity; (b) Article 32(1) of Regulation 36/2012; QMV
|Foreign and Commonwealth Office
(a) (36603), (b) (36604),
Summary and Committee's conclusions
29.1 These proposals will re-impose travel restrictions and asset
freezes against three individuals associated with the Assad regime
in Syria, Ayman Jabir, Khalid Qaddur and Mohamed Hamcho, and one
entity, Hamcho International. The original restrictions were annulled
by the General Court. It is apparent from the judgement in respect
of Jabir that evidence relied on originally against him included
Wikipedia. The re-listing is based on new statements of reason.
29.2 At our meeting of 21 January 2015 we cleared
these documents but sought the confirmation from the Minister
(Mr David Lidington) that he considers the reasons given for the
restrictive measures are sufficiently robust to either deter or
withstand further legal challenge. We also asked him to provide
the open source evidence.
29.3 Consideration of this matter has been held back
in order to report it in conjunction with the Iranian nuclear
issues in chapter 14.
29.4 We note that the Minister confirms that these
relistings are legally robust.
29.5 He sets out the same objections to disclosing
to Parliament the open source evidence supporting the listings
as for Iranian restrictive measures reported at chapter 14 i.e.
it would be contrary to the Council Rules of Procedure preventing
disclosure of the "deliberations of the Council". We
re-iterate that our request did not seek information as to which
Member State proposed restricted measures, nor the deliberations
of the Council in respect such information. It lacks credibility
that information available to the public should become clothed
in confidentiality simply because it is included in a document
considered by the Council. We strongly doubt that the Council
or the Government will be able to enforce the confidentiality
of open source material or sustain it if challenged.
Full details of
the documents: (a) Council Implementing
Decision implementing Decision 2013/255/CFSP concerning restrictive
measures against Syria: (36603), ; (b) Council Implementing
Regulation implementing Regulation (EU) No. 36/2012 concerning
restrictive measures in view of the situation in Syria: (36604),
29.6 On 13 November 2014, the General Court of the
European Union annulled the designations of Khalid Qaddur, Ayman
Jabir, Mohamed Hamcho and Hamcho International under the EU Syria
sanctions regime in Cases T-653/11 Ayman Jabir v Council, T-654/11
Khalid Qaddur vs. Council and T-43/12 Mohamed Hamcho and Hamcho
International vs Council. The Court's main reason for annulment
in each case was that the EU Council was unable to provide the
Court with sufficient evidence to back up the assertions made
in the statement of reasons. The Court suspended the effects of
the annulment until 28 January 2015.
The Minister's letter of 4 February 2015
29.7 The Minister's responds to the request for confirmation
as to the robustness of these relistings:
"It is our view that the evidential basis
of the Council's decision to relist the three individuals and
one entity is legally robust and that in the event of challenge,
the Council should be in a position to successfully defend the
29.8 In respect of these disclosure of open source
information to Parliament he indicates:
"The Committee further requested that the
evidence supporting the listings of these individuals and entity
be presented to them. It is with regret that I must decline this
request. As I have explained to the Committees before, when an
individual/entity is relisted, they are pre-notified by the EU
Council of the listing decision and are given an opportunity to
seek further detail on why they are being relisted and make observations
to the Council.
"The Government adopts a consistent policy
of declining to provide the evidence which supports listing, or
relisting, proposals to the Parliamentary Scrutiny Committees.
The reasons for this I set out below.
"The listing proposals which the Parliamentary
Scrutiny Committees scrutinise may be put forward by the UK or
one of the other EU Member States, or the EEAS. The underlying
evidence is made available to the Council and held on file. Information
that forms part of the Council's internal decision making can
be shared between Member States, however the Council decides collectively
on the sharing of information externally.
"Member States are bound by a duty of professional
secrecy with respect to Council documents unless they have been
made publicly available, as set out in the Council's Rules of
Procedure. Article 6 (1) states '...the deliberations of the Council
shall be covered by the obligation of professional secrecy, except
in so far as the Council decides otherwise'. Professional secrecy
maintains non-disclosure of the identity of the proposing Member
State, and limits the scope for third countries to play divide
and rule with the EU's sanctions policy.
"There are specific procedures for sharing
information with the designated individual or entity. All open-source
evidence is disclosed to them, upon their request, by the Council.
They may share this information with their legal representatives
in preparing their defence.
"The sharing of information externally with
other actors is a collective decision for the Council. The Council
Secretariat holds the responsibility to disclose such documents,
or not, in accordance with applicable EU law."
Previous Committee Reports
Thirtieth Report HC 219-xxix (2014-15), chapter 13,
(21 January 2015).