On July 20, 2023, the Council of the EU adopted Council Implementing Regulations (EU) 2023/1495 and 2023/1499 and Council Decisions (CFSP) 2023/1500 and 2023/1504 in order to designate 18 individuals and 5 entities for engaging in serious human rights violations and abuses in Afghanistan, South Sudan, the Central African Republic (“CAR”), Ukraine, and Russia. The sanctions were imposed pursuant to the EU Global Human Rights Sanctions Regime, which subjects designees to asset freezes and travel bans, and prohibits EU citizens and companies form making funds available to designated persons.
In response to allegations of sexual and gender-based forms of violence and abuse, the Council designated the acting Taliban Minister of Education, the acting Taliban Chief of Justice of the Supreme Court of Afghanistan, and the acting Taliban Minister of Justice. The officials were designated for their roles in banning girls’ access to secondary education beyond the sixth grade or the exclusion of female judges from the Afghan court system and womens’ restricted access to justice and equal treatment in Afghan society. The Council also targeted several military leaders in South Sudan, CAR, and Russia for widespread attacks against the civilian population, including the use of sexual and gender-based violence to terrorize local populations.
Several Russian companies, government bodies and officials with the City of Moscow were also sanctioned in connection with human rights violations, many of which were associated with the misuse of facial recognition technology to repress opposition politicians, democracy activists and Kremlin critics Alexei Navalny and Vladimir Kara-Murza. The designations include three comipanies that allegedly supplied the facial recognition software used in the repression; several prison officials allegedly responsible for the torture of Navalny and the lengthy cycles of solitary confinement that contributed to a sharp decline in his health; and Alexander Alexandrovich Samofal, an agent of the Federal Security Service of the Russian Federation (“FSB”) who was reportedly involved in an operation to assassinate Kara-Murza.
Council of the EU Press Release | Council Implementing Regulation (EU) 2023/1499 | Council Decision (CFSP) 2023/1504 | Council Implementing Regulation (EU) 2023/1495 | Council Decision (CFSP) 2023/1500