Documents considered by the Committee on 14th October 2015 - European Scrutiny Contents

24 Restrictive measures against the Central African Republic

Committee's assessment Politically important
Committee's decisionCleared from scrutiny
Document details(a) Council Implementing Decision and (b) Implementing Regulation concerning restrictive measures against the Central African Republic.
Legal base(a) Article 31(2) TEU and Article 2c of Council Decision 2013/798/CFSP; QMV, (b) Article 17(1) of Council Regulation (EU) No. 224/2014; QMV
DepartmentForeign and Commonwealth Office
Document Numbers (a) (37080), —; (b) (37081), —

Summary and Committee's conclusions

24.1 On 28 January 2014, the United Nations Security Council adopted Security Council Resolution (UNSCR) 2134 (2014) providing a framework for sanctions including a travel ban and asset freeze measures for use against certain persons responsible for, complicit in or having engaged in, directly or indirectly, actions or policies that threaten the peace, security or stability of the Central African Republic. The resolution provided the UN Security Council with the means to apply sanctions against individuals who meet the designation criteria, in support of resolving the conflict in the Central African Republic. This was given effect by Council Regulation (EU) No. 224/2014 of 10 March 2014.

24.2 On 20 August 2015, the UN Sanctions Committee established to oversee the relevant sanctions measures concerning the Central African Republic added three persons and one entity to the list of persons and entities subject to the measures imposed by UNSC Resolution 2134 (2014):

—  Habib SOUSSOU

—  Ouman YOUNOUS

—  Alfred YEKATOM

—  Badica (Bureau d'Achat de Diamant en Centrafrique)

24.3 On 2 September 2015, the European Union adopted Council Decision (CFSP) 2015/1488 and Council Regulation 2015/1485 which transposed the UN measures into EU law.

24.4 The full background, including the EU's wider role in supporting the UN, is outlined below. The Minister for Europe (Mr David Lidington) explains clearly and convincingly why these measures are appropriate: in sum, because those affected are undermining attempts to bring peace and reconciliation to this deeply traumatised country.

24.5 We now clear the documents from scrutiny.

24.6 In the circumstances and on this occasion (c.f. paragraph 24.19 below), we do not take issue with the override of scrutiny.

Full details of the documents: (a) Council Implementing Decision (CFSP) 2015/1488 of 2 September 2015 implementing Decision 2013/798/CFSP concerning restrictive measures against the Central African Republic: (37080), —; (b) Council Implementing Regulation (EU) 2015/1485 of 2 September 2015 implementing Article 17(1) of Regulation (EU) No. 224/2014 concerning restrictive measures in view of the situation in the Central African Republic: (37081), —.


24.7 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, and bands of Christian vigilantes, the Anti-balaka.

24.8 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.

24.9 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.

24.10 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.

24.11 The previous Committee cleared the draft Council Decision from scrutiny on 26 February 2014. But the then and current Minister for Europe 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".

24.12 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.

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

24.14 The Minister also confirmed that the Council Decisions, Regulations, Implementing Decisions and 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[ 142] — ditto, in the week commencing 3 March 2014.

24.15 The previous Committee therefore cleared the Council Regulation, Implementing Decision and Implementing Regulation from scrutiny.[ 143]

24.16 In March this year, the Minister submitted a further Council Decision and Regulation, which:

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

—  added 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).

24.17 More generally, the Minister said that the situation in CAR remained dire: a spike in violence in October 2014 included an attack on a UN convoy, and the population as a whole continued 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 noted that a sustainable recovery would depend on improved security and increased stability, and that the UK's immediate priorities for CAR at this critical time were to ensure that a safe and secure environment was established and maintained through the MINUSCA,[ 144] which would enable the right conditions for a sustainable political process. Amending EU restrictive measures in line with those implemented by the UN would "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".

The previous Committee's assessment

24.18 The EU was 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 under a UN Security Council mandate (UNSCR 2134 (2014)) and would 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 was cleared on 14 January 2015.[ 145] EUMAM CAR would 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 were deeply concerned.

24.19 At present, three individuals were "listed": two senior figures associated with the anti-balaka militias and one associated with the Séléka. If there was 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, they looked forward to the Minister depositing it for scrutiny.

24.20 In the meantime, the draft Council Decision and Council Regulation was cleared from scrutiny.

Council Decision (CFSP) 2015/1488 and Regulation 2015/1485

24.21 As noted above, these transpose into EU law the measures that were agreed, on 20 August 2015, by the UN Sanctions Committee established to oversee the relevant sanctions measures concerning the Central African Republic. The Council Implementing Decision and Council Implementing Regulation were adopted on 2 September 2015.

The Government's view

24.22 In his Explanatory Memorandum of 18 September 2015, the Minister confirms that the situation in CAR remains fragile:

"The civilian population continues to suffer from extrajudicial killings, arbitrary arrests and detention, torture, recruitment and use of child soldiers and sexual violence against women and children. The UK's immediate priorities for CAR at this critical time are to ensure that a safe and secure environment is established and maintained which will enable the right conditions for a sustainable political process."

24.23 He describes sanctions as a key policy tool used to support UK and UN policy goals:

"The case for further sanctions was carefully considered by the UN Panel of Experts on CAR, as well as by the UK, France and the United States. The individuals and entity designated under the resolution are responsible for engaging in or providing support for acts that undermine the peace, stability or security of CAR.

"The UNSC took the decision to carefully monitor the implementation and progress of the Brazzaville Agreement on cessation of hostilities and the Bangui Forum, a national dialogue intended to lay the foundation for reconciliation and inclusive elections, before considering further sanctions. The three listed individuals did not cooperate with the Bangui Forum or the Brazzaville Agreement. Their designation under UN sanctions will send a strong message from the international community that their behaviour is not acceptable and will not be tolerated."

24.24 With respect to Badica, the Minister says:

"CAR was suspended from the Kimberley Process[ 146] in May 2013 following the forceful taking of power, including attacks on a number of diamond producing areas, by the rebel group Seleka. Badica is a diamond purchasing company that has continued to purchase diamonds from rebel controlled mines and trades in CAR diamonds overseas despite CAR's suspension from the Kimberley Process."

The Minister's letter of 18 September 2015

24.25 The Minister states that the draft EU Council Decision and Regulation were received by my officials on 31 August 2015 and were formally adopted on 2 September 2015, and says:

24.26 "The rapid transposition of UN sanctions designations into EU legislation is highly desirable in so far as it mitigates the risk of asset flight once designations have been published by the UN and ensures the effectiveness and credibility of the sanctions regime. I regret that I found myself in the position of having to agree to the rapid adoption of these Council documents before your Committee had an opportunity to scrutinise them."

Previous Committee Reports

None, but see (36730), — and (36731), —: Thirty-seventh Report HC 219-xxxvi (2014-15), chapter 34 (18 March 2015); also 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).

142   COREPER. Back

143   See (36730), - and (36731), -: Thirty-seventh Report HC 219-xxxvi (2014-15), chapter 34 (18 March 2015) for further detail. Back

144   Concerned with the security, humanitarian, human rights and political crisis in the Central African Republic and its regional implications, the Security Council authorized on 10 April 2014 deployment of a multidimensional United Nations peacekeeping operation - MINUSCA . See MINUSCA. Back

145   (36595), -: Twenty-ninth Report HC 219-xxviii (2014-15), chapter 14 (14 January 2015). Back

146   A simple process called the Kimberley Process was agreed in which rough diamonds are sealed in tamper-resistant containers and have a forgery resistant conflict free certificate with unique serial numbers each time they cross an international border. This process ring-fences conflict diamonds in order to prevent them from entering the diamond supply so that they do not fund any rebel groups. Governments of the exporting and importing countries are responsible for checking all Kimberley Process certificates. See the World Diamond Council's CONFLICT DIAMONDS AND THE KIMBERLEY PROCESS FACT SHEET. Back

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Prepared 14 October 2015