Sunday

20th Aug 2017

Court revokes EU sanctions on son of Burmese tycoon

The EU travel and financial ban against the son of a prominent Burmese businessman with close ties to the military junta should be lifted, according to a ruling by the EU's top court on Tuesday (13 March).

The European Court of Justice (ECJ) said there is insufficient evidence to link Pye Phyo Tay Za to the erosion of human rights and democracy in the country.

Thank you for reading EUobserver!

Subscribe now and get 40% off for an annual subscription. Sale ends soon.

  1. €90 per year. Use discount code EUOBS40%
  2. or €15 per month
  3. Cancel anytime

EUobserver is an independent, not-for-profit news organization that publishes daily news reports, analysis, and investigations from Brussels and the EU member states. We are an indispensable news source for anyone who wants to know what is going on in the EU.

We are mainly funded by advertising and subscription revenues. As advertising revenues are falling fast, we depend on subscription revenues to support our journalism.

For group, corporate or student subscriptions, please contact us. See also our full Terms of Use.

If you already have an account click here to login.

  • The European Court of Justice ruled in favour of lifting restrictions against the son of a Burmese tycoon (Photo: Xianzi Tan)

Tay Za brought his case to the Luxembourg-based court in 2008. But it ruled against him in 2011, saying family members of individuals with close ties to the regime, by extension, would also benefit from the economic policies of the ruling government.

Tay Za appealed and was able to convince judges he does not have any links to his father's business or business practices by the regime.

The Luxembourg-based court has since decided that "restrictive measures imposed on a third country must be directed only - in so far as natural persons are concerned - against the leaders of that country and the persons associated with them."

The EU imposed targeted sanctions against the junta in 1996 and anyone presumed to have close links. The sanctions are intended to encourage transition towards democratic rule and help end the scourge of its pariah government against activists and human rights defenders.

Tay Za's father has major stakes in a wide area of economic sectors in Burma, including logging, tourism, hotels, transport and construction. His father also runs a domestic airline and has close ties to some of the country's top generals.

The court's decision means sanctions cannot be applied to someone only because they are related to an individual who is associated with leaders of the country.

The ruling could have wider implications on other pending cases and on the debate between those who oppose sanctions and those who support it.

Last year, a similar ruling lifted sanctions against the second wife of the former president of the Cote D'Ivoire, Laurent Gbagbo. In that case, the court could not find sufficient evidence linking her to "the obstruction of peace and reconciliation process in Cote d'Ivoire."

Separately, the EU has been steadily relaxing restrictions against Burma in response to what it views as a concerted effort by its leaders to enact reform.

The junta is allowing opposing political parties to participate in the upcoming 1 April elections.

"We have seen historic changes in Burma/Myanmar and we strongly encourage the authorities to continue this process," said EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton in February.

She intends to visit the country in April.

NGO warns of Burma abuses amid EU praise

EU foreign ministers have agreed to ease sanctions on Burma following the junta's recent moves towards democracy. But a report by Human Rights Watch published the same day warns of continued abuse.

EU sanctions not as tough as they sound

The EU is to add some 160 names to its Belarus and Syria blacklists later this month. But being put under an EU ban is not as categorical as it sounds.

Opinion

Reintegrating Myanmar

The EU should move quickly on trade and aid for Myanmar/Burma in case the window for real reform slams shut.

News in Brief

  1. Macedonia sacks top prosecutor over wiretap scandal
  2. ECB concerned stronger euro could derail economic recovery
  3. Mixed Irish reactions to post-Brexit border proposal
  4. European Union returns to 2 percent growth
  5. Russian power most feared in Europe
  6. Ireland continues to refuse €13 billion in back taxes from Apple
  7. UK unemployment lowest since 1975
  8. Europe facing 'explosive cocktail' in its backyard, report warns

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. European Healthy Lifestyle AllianceDoes Genetics Explain Why So Few of Us Have an Ideal Cardiovascular Health?
  2. EU2017EEFuture-Themed Digital Painting Competition Welcomes Artists - Deadline 31 Aug
  3. ACCABusinesses Must Grip Ethics and Trust in the Digital Age
  4. European Jewish CongressEJC Welcomes European Court of Justice's Decision to Keep Hamas on Terror List
  5. UNICEFReport: Children on the Move From Africa Do Not First Aim to Go to Europe
  6. Centre Maurits CoppietersWe Need Democratic and Transparent Free Trade Agreements Says MEP Jordi Solé
  7. Counter BalanceOut for Summer, Ep. 2: EIB Promoting Development in Egypt - At What Cost?
  8. EU2017EELocal Leaders Push for Local and Regional Targets to Address Climate Change
  9. European Healthy Lifestyle AllianceMore Women Than Men Have Died From Heart Disease in Past 30 Years
  10. European Jewish CongressJean-Marie Le Pen Faces Trial for Oven Comments About Jewish Singer
  11. ACCAAnnounces Belt & Road Research at Shanghai Conference
  12. ECPAFood Waste in the Field Can Double Without Crop Protection. #WithOrWithout #Pesticides