Thursday

20th Feb 2020

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.

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Support quality EU news

Get instant access to all articles — and 20 years of archives. 14-day free trial.

... or join as a group

  • 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.

EU set for new Libya naval mission

Foreign ministers reached a political agreement to create a new EU naval force to replace Operation Sophia. It aims to enforce an UN arms embargo on Libya and operate in area where migrants do not take boats.

Luxembourg takes EU lead on Palestine recognition

Luxembourg has stepped up efforts to coordinate an EU reaction to the risk Israel will annex Palestinian territories - but European recognition of Palestine remains a dim prospect.

Commission backtracks after Western Sahara 'mistake'

Just hours of publication, the EU Commission removed from the European Parliament's website a response by one of its own commissioners on the Western Sahara, a disputed territory annexed by Morocco.

News in Brief

  1. EU unveils white paper on AI and data strategy
  2. Dutch court rules against Russia in €46bn Yukos case
  3. Britain to bar 'Polish plumber-type' migrants
  4. Greece seeks EU help to get back classical statues from UK
  5. HSBC to cut 35,000 jobs worldwide
  6. Regions chief appeals against cutting EU cohesion funds
  7. Verhofstadt criticises UK Brexit negotiator
  8. Turkish court acquits Gezi park activists

Opinion

Trump's 'plan' for Israel will go against EU values

As someone who has been personally targeted by Benjamin Netanyahu's incitement against Arabs and Palestinians, Christians, Muslims and Druze, I still believe that peace is possible. But Donald Trump's 'plan' will be a gift to Netanyahu's campaign.

China spy suspect worked for EU for 30 years

The former EU ambassador suspected by German prosecutors of spying for China was Gerhard Sabathil, according to EU officials speaking on condition of anonymity.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of MinistersScottish parliament seeks closer collaboration with the Nordic Council
  2. UNESDAFrom Linear to Circular – check out UNESDA's new blog
  3. Nordic Council of Ministers40 years of experience have proven its point: Sustainable financing actually works
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic and Baltic ministers paving the way for 5G in the region
  5. Nordic Council of MinistersEarmarked paternity leave – an effective way to change norms
  6. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Climate Action Weeks in December

Latest News

  1. EU leaders face major clash on rule of law budget link
  2. North Macedonia warns EU on 'dirtiest ever' election
  3. Western 'endarkenment' and the voodoo politics of Europe
  4. Warning of agricultural 'digital arms race' in EU
  5. Cayman Islands put on tax-haven blacklist after Brexit
  6. Boris' Brexit bluff? - UK will resist alignment to the end
  7. US still open to Kosovo-Serbia land swap
  8. EU countries enter final phase of budget talks

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us