Tuesday

16th Apr 2024

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

Get the EU news that really matters

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

... or subscribe 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.

Latest News

  1. EU leaders mull ways to arrest bloc's economic decline
  2. Police ordered to end far-right 'Nat-Con' Brussels conference
  3. How Hungary's teachers are taking on Viktor Orban
  4. What do we actually mean by EU 'competitiveness'?
  5. New EU envoy Markus Pieper quits before taking up post
  6. EU puts Sudan war and famine-risk back in spotlight
  7. EU to blacklist Israeli settlers, after new sanctions on Hamas
  8. Private fears of fairtrade activist for EU election campaign

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of MinistersJoin the Nordic Food Systems Takeover at COP28
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersHow women and men are affected differently by climate policy
  3. Nordic Council of MinistersArtist Jessie Kleemann at Nordic pavilion during UN climate summit COP28
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersCOP28: Gathering Nordic and global experts to put food and health on the agenda
  5. Friedrich Naumann FoundationPoems of Liberty – Call for Submission “Human Rights in Inhume War”: 250€ honorary fee for selected poems
  6. World BankWorld Bank report: How to create a future where the rewards of technology benefit all levels of society?

Join EUobserver

EU news that matters

Join us