Documents considered by the Committee on 18 March 2015 - European Scrutiny Contents


34 The EU and the Central African Republic

Committee's assessment Politically important
Committee's decisionCleared from scrutiny
Document detailsDraft council decision and regulation concerning restrictive measures against certain persons engaging in, or providing support for, acts that undermine the peace, stability or security of the Central African Republic (CAR)
Legal base(a) Article 29 TEU; unanimity; (b) Article 215 TFEU; QMV
Department

Document numbers

Foreign and Commonwealth Office

(a) (36730), — (b) (36731), —

Summary and Committee's conclusions

34.1 Council Decision 2013/798/CFSP imposed a year-long arms embargo on the direct or indirect supply, sale or transfer to the Central African Republic (CAR) of arms and related materiel, including weapons and ammunition, military vehicles, paramilitary equipment and spare parts related to military activities, in line with UNSCR 2127 (2013) of 5 December 2013, which the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) adopted in response to the deteriorating situation in the CAR, which centred on fighting between predominantly Muslim militants, known as the ex-Seléka,[100] and bands of Christian vigilantes, the Anti-balaka.[101]

34.2 On 28 January 2014, the UNSC adopted Resolution 2134 (2014), which extended and clarified the arms embargo imposed by UNSCR 2127 (2013) and introduced a travel ban on, and provided for the freezing of funds and economic resources of, certain persons engaging in, or providing support for, acts that undermine the peace, stability or security of the Central African Republic.

34.3 Council Decision 2014/125/CFSP of 10 March 2014 amended Council Decision 2013/798/CFSP, to reflect the changes that UNSCR 2134 (2014) introduced; the Regulation accompanying it enabled the embargo, travel ban and asset freeze measures in the UNSCR and Council Decision to be implemented.

34.4 France was playing a prominent role in this process, having deployed 1,600 French troops in early December 2013 on a mission to stem the fighting: the focus was on specific individuals with Séléka or anti-balaka links, although no specific listings had yet been proposed.

34.5 The Committee cleared the draft Council Decision from scrutiny on 26 February 2014. But the Minister for Europe (Mr David Lidington) noted that France was "aware that for the UK to agree any names for listing, there is a need for strong underlying evidence that can be defended in a UK court of law"; the UK had the right to veto any nominations at the UN sanctions committee stage, and would do so if evidence was lacking; he expected France to "propose listings and share supporting evidence with us in the coming weeks".

34.6 The Committee therefore retained the Council Regulation under scrutiny until the Minister was able to provide the key components: the names of those to be listed and the justification.

34.7 The draft Council Implementing Decision and Council Implementing Regulation subsequently presented for scrutiny, which included "populating" the Annex to the earlier Council Regulation with the names of the three individuals concerned and why they have been "listed", completed the process begun in February 2014.

34.8 The Minister also confirmed that the Council Decisions, Council Regulations, Council Implementing Decisions and Council Implementing Regulations became legally binding in all Member States at the point of adoption at Council — in this case, the Foreign Affairs Council on 23 June 2014 — and not, as he had originally suggested, when adopted by COREPER[102] — ditto, in the week commencing 3 March 2014.

34.9 The Committee therefore cleared the Council Regulation, Council Implementing Decision and Council Implementing Regulation from scrutiny (see paras 34.22 to 34.27 below for details).

34.10 The Minister now explains that this new Council Decision and Council Regulation:

—  update the various UN and African Union-led entities named in the documents;

—  add language to the travel ban and asset freeze criteria to include those illicitly trading in wildlife products and gold (this being principally aimed at former Séléka forces who are collecting approximately US$150,000 in taxes per year from local gold production which in turn funds their continuing operations).

34.11 More generally, the Minister says that the situation in CAR remains dire: a spike in violence in October 2014 included an attack on a UN convoy, and the population as a whole continues to suffer from extrajudicial killings, arbitrary arrests and detention, torture, recruitment and use of child soldiers and sexual violence against women and children (as well as the exploitation of natural resources and wildlife and wildlife products). He notes that a sustainable recovery will depend on improved security and increased stability, and that the UK's immediate priorities for CAR at this critical time are to ensure that a safe and secure environment is established and maintained through the MINUSCA,[103] which will enable the right conditions for a sustainable political process. Amending EU restrictive measures in line with those implemented by the UN "will increase pressure on those who have been designated to cease their destabilising activities by restricting their finances and ability to travel internationally", and also send "a political message to allies and UN Member States that the situation in the CAR must be addressed".

34.12 The EU is also heavily engaged in enabling the safe and secure environment that would provide the right conditions for a sustainable political process via its two ESDP missions: the EU military stabilisation force, EUFOR CAR, which was launched on 1 April 2014, operates under a UN Security Council mandate (UNSCR 2134 (2014)) and will end on 15 March 2015, handing over to the EU Military Advisory Mission to the Central African Republic, EUMAM CAR, which was established via the Council Decision that the Committee cleared on 14 January 2015.[104] They will be working with MINUSCA on security sector reform (SSR), i.e., introducing order into the CAR armed forces, about whose reliability the interim president and prime minister are deeply concerned.

34.13 At present, three individuals are "listed": two senior figures associated with the anti-balaka militias and one associated with the Séléka. If there is subsequently a further Council Regulation of some sort, with additional names in the light of the language added to the travel ban and asset freeze criteria, we look forward to the Minister depositing it for scrutiny.

34.14 In the meantime, we now clear the draft Council Decision and Council Regulation from scrutiny.

Full details of the documents: Council Decision amending Decision 2013/798/CFSP concerning restrictive measures against the Central African Republic: (36730) —; Council Regulation amending Regulation (EU) No. 224/2014 concerning restrictive measures in view of the situation in the Central African Republic: (36731) —.

Background

34.15 On 23 December 2013, the EU Council adopted Decision 2013/798/CFSP concerning restrictive measures against the Central African Republic (CAR) providing for an arms embargo, in accordance with UNSCR 2127 (2013) of 5 December 2013. The Committee cleared this Council Decision and reported the background and the government's views to the House on 8 January 2014.[105]

34.16 On 28 January 2014, the UN Security Council:

—  extended the mandate of the United Nations Integrated Peacebuilding Office in the Central African Republic (BINUCA) for one year;

—  reinforced and updated BINUCA's mandate to assist in the transitional political process, and to help with conflict prevention, humanitarian assistance, extension of State authority, stabilization of the security situation, and the promotion and protection of human rights;

—  authorized the European Union to deploy an operation in the Central African Republic, and authorized that operation to take all necessary measures, within the limits of its capacities and areas of deployment from its initial deployment and for a period of six months from the declaration of its full operational capacity; [106]

—  decided that, for an initial period of one year, all UN Member States would take the necessary measures to prevent the entry into or transit through their territories of individuals designated by the relevant UN Sanctions Committee, provided that nothing would oblige a State to refuse its own nationals entry into its territory; and

—  decided that all Member States would freeze without delay all funds, other financial assets and economic resources within their territories that were either owned or controlled, directly or indirectly, by individuals or entities designated by the Sanctions Committee, by others acting on their behalf or by entities owned or controlled by them.[107]

34.17 With his Explanatory Memorandum of 19 February 2014, the Minister for Europe submitted for scrutiny:

—  a draft Council Decision to amend Decision 2013/798/CFSP, to reflect the changes that UNSCR 2134 (2014) introduced; and

—  a draft Regulation, enabling the embargo, travel ban and asset freeze measures set out in the Council Decision to be put in place.

34.18 The Minister said that:

—  the arms embargo, introduced under UNSCR 2127 (2013), therefore played a logical step in reducing access to weapons that had undoubtedly played a negative role in the situation in the CAR, with violence occurring across much of the country; however, policing of the lengthy and porous CAR borders was minimal, and tightening the embargo under the new Council Decision, and the supporting Regulation in question, thus sought to mitigate further the risk of arms entering the country;

—  a successful political process, leading to an inclusive, constitutional, and effective government, was vital to the medium and long term future of the CAR; the introduction of asset freeze and travel ban measures would therefore be used to target individuals who engage in, or provide support for, acts that undermined the peace, stability or security of the CAR;

—  France was looking to target specific individuals with Séléka (the mainly Muslim rebel coalition that took power by force in March 2013) or anti-balaka (i.e., anti-machete; mainly Christian armed groups who had been linked to atrocities against Muslim communities) links, although no specific listings had yet been proposed;

—  France was "aware that for the UK to agree any names for listing, there is a need for strong underlying evidence that can be defended in a UK court of law. The UK has the right to veto any nominations at the UN sanctions committee stage, and will do so if evidence is lacking";

—  he expected France to "propose listings and share supporting evidence with us in the coming weeks"; and

—  in the meantime, it was "worth noting that the threat of restrictive measures that UNSCR 2134 (2014), and ultimately this regulation, impose already sends a powerful and timely political signal; which we hope will work somewhat to deter further violence and instability in the country".

34.19 The Minister concluded by saying that Council Decision and Regulation were due to be adopted by COREPER in the week commencing 3 March 2014; at which point, the Council Decision and Regulation would be implemented into EU law and be legally binding in all Member States.

34.20 No questions arose on the draft Council Decision, which we therefore cleared from scrutiny.

34.21 We were, however, concerned that we are being asked to clear a Council Regulation that was incomplete, in that precisely who was to be subject to it was yet to be decided — which, as the Minister noted, was crucial. The Council Regulation could not be properly adopted until the UN Sanctions Committee had agreed to whom it should apply. We therefore continued to retain it under scrutiny until the Minister was able to provide a draft that contained those names.

34.22 On a point of detail, pace COREPER, our understanding was that no draft legislation was finalised until it had been adopted by the Council; we therefore asked the Minister to confirm that this was his understanding also.

34.23 In his Explanatory Memorandum of 6 June 2014, the Minister recalled that the asset freeze and travel ban measures were designed to target individuals who engaged in, or provided support for, acts that undermined the peace, stability or security of the CAR, by restricting their freedom of movement and limiting their financial capability to fund further violence or acts that contribute to instability; and said that three individuals, who met these criteria and had been listed with restrictive measures under UNSCR 2134 (2014), were now due to be listed by the EU via the attached Council Decision and supporting Regulation.

34.24 He continued as follows:

    "The first individual is Francois Yangouvanda BOZIZE, who is being targeted for providing financial and material support to militiamen who work to destabilize the ongoing transition in the CAR and bring him back to power. François Bozizé, in liaison with his supporters, encouraged the attack of 5 December 2013 on Bangui by anti-Balaka forces, which left over 700 people dead. Since then, he has continued to run destabilization operations and to federate the anti-balakas militias, in order to maintain tensions in the capital of CAR. Bozizé also tried to reorganise many elements from the Central African Armed Forces, who dispersed into the countryside after the coup d'état, and has called on his militia to pursue atrocities against the current regime and CAR Islamists.

    "The second individual is Nourredine ADAM, who is being targeted due to his role as both a General and the President of the Central PJCC, one of the armed rebel groups of the Séléka; he was also the military coordinator of the ex-Séléka during offensives in the former rebellion in the CAR between early December 2012 and March 2013. Without Noureddine's involvement, the Séléka would likely have been unable to wrest power from former CAR President François Bozizé. He now clearly urges his forces to resist injunctions of the transitional government and of the military leaders of the African-led International Support Mission in the Central African Republic (MISCA) and directs operations against Christian neighbourhoods, with significant provisions of support and direction to the ex-Séléka operating in CAR. ADAM also used the now-defunct CAR intelligence service as his personal political police, carrying out many arbitrary arrests, acts of torture and summary executions. Lastly, in early 2013, he played an important role in the ex-Séléka's financing networks, travelling to Saudi Arabia, Qatar and the United Arab Emirates to collect funds for the former rebellion and operated as a facilitator for a Chadian diamond-trafficking ring operating between the CAR and Chad.

    "The third individual is Levy YAKETE, who, on 17 December 2013, became the political coordinator of the newly formed People's Resistance Movement for Reforming of the Central African Republic anti-Balaka rebel group and has been directly involved in decisions that have undermined peace, stability and security in the CAR. Yakete is accused of ordering the arrest of people connected to the Séléka, calling for attacks on people who do not support President Bozizé and recruiting young militiamen to attack those hostile to the regime with machetes. Having remained in the entourage of François Bozizé after March 2013, he joined the Front for the Return to Constitutional Order in CAR, which aimed to return the deposed president to power by whatever means necessary. In late summer 2013, he travelled to Cameroon and Benin, where he attempted to recruit people to fight against the Séléka. In September 2013, he tried to regain control over operations led by pro-Bozizé fighters in towns and villages near to Bossangoa. Yakete is also suspected of promoting the distribution of machetes to young unemployed Christians to facilitate their attacks on Muslims."

34.25 With regard to the question of when Council Decisions, Council Regulations, Council Implementing Decisions and Council Implementing Regulations were implemented into EU law and thus legally binding in all Member States, the Minister said:

    "this happens at the point of adoption at Council; in this case adoption is planned for the Foreign Affairs Council on 23 June 2014."

The draft Council Decision and Council Regulation

34.26 In his Explanatory Memorandum of 11 March 2015, the Minister says that, on 22 January 2015, the UN Security Council adopted Resolution 2196 (2015), which renewed the sanctions measures on the CAR to 29 January 2016, and provided for certain amendments to the criteria for restrictions on admission and the freezing of funds and economic resources for persons or entities designated by the Committee established pursuant to paragraph 57 of UNSCR 2127 (2013).

34.27 The Minister explains that the draft Council Decision and Regulation detail the changes and allow for the transposition of these amendments from the UN to the EU accordingly; in short, these amendments include:

    "the removal of references to: the Mission for the Consolidation of Peace in Central African Republic (MICOPAX); African-led International Support Mission to the Central African Republic (MISCA); United Nations Integrated Peacebuilding Office in Central African Republic (BINUCA) and its guard unit. The mandates for MICOPAX and BINUCA have expired. MISCA was the African-led International Support Mission to the Central African Republic which transitioned into the United Nations Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in the Central African Republic (MINUSCA) on 15 September 2014; and

    "the addition of language to the travel ban and asset freeze criteria to include those illicitly trading in wildlife products and gold. These amendments were made by the Security Council following the findings of the Panel of Experts Established Pursuant to Security Council Resolution 2127 (2013) in their Final Report (S/2014/762) that provided information that former Séléka forces collect approximately US$150,000 in taxes per year from local gold production which in turn funds their continuing operations. It also noted that armed groups and criminal networks exploited natural resources and supply routes."

The Government's view

34.28 The Minister recalls the circumstances in which the UN sanctions measures were imposed on CAR, when it judged that there was a high risk of genocide.

34.29 He continues as follows:

    "Numerous human rights abuses have been reported and sanctions seek to minimise the ability of rebel groups to commit further acts of violence.

    "The situation in CAR remains dire. A period of relative calm in Bangui was shattered in October 2014 with a spike in violence which included an attack on a UN convoy. The population continues to suffer from extrajudicial killings, arbitrary arrests and detention, torture, recruitment and use of child soldiers, sexual violence against women and children and exploitation of natural resources including diamonds and wildlife and wildlife products in the CAR.

    "A sustainable recovery from crisis will depend on improved security and increased stability. The UK's immediate priorities for CAR at this critical time are to ensure that a safe and secure environment is established and maintained through the MINUSCA which will enable the right conditions for a sustainable political process. Amending EU restrictive measures in line with those implemented by the UN will increase pressure on those who have been designated to cease their destabilising activities by restricting their finances and ability to travel internationally. This also sends a political message to allies and UN Member States that the situation in the CAR must be addressed."

Previous Committee Reports

None, but see (35672), —, (36064), — and (36065), —: Second Report HC 219-ii (2014-15), chapter 9 (11 June 2014); also see (35812), — and (35671), 6282/14: HC 83-xxxiv (2013-14), chapter 8 (26 February 2014); and (35672), —: HC 83-xxvi (2013-14), chapter 18 (8 January 2014).


100   Séléka was an alliance of rebel militia factions that overthrew the Central African Republic government on 24 March 2013. Nearly all the members of Séléka are Muslim. Back

101   The term used to refer to the Christian militias formed after the rise to power of the Seléka, who had been linked to atrocities against Muslim communities; Anti-balaka means "anti-machete" or "anti-sword" in the local Sango and Mandja languages. Back

102   COREPER. Back

103   MINUSCA. Back

104   (36595), -: Twenty-ninth Report HC 219-xxviii (2014-15), chapter 14 (14 January 2015). Back

105   (35672), -: HC 83-xxvi (2013-14), chapter 18 (8 January 2014). Back

106   For the Committee's consideration of the Council Decision establishing this mission, see (35747), -: HC 83-xxxi (2013-14), chapter 14 (5 February 2014). Back

107   See full text of the press notice, and of UNSCR. Back


 
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