Pressespiegel CW 26/2024: New Sanctions, Old Laws
Press Review 21 June 2024 to 28 June 2024

EU imposes sanctions against six individuals from Sudan


On Monday, the European Council imposed sanctions on six individuals in Sudan over the war between the Sudanese Armed Forces (SAF) and the paramilitary Rapid Support Forces (RSF). They are accused of undermining stability and political change in Sudan. The list of sanctions imposed includes those responsible on both sides of the conflict. On the RSF side, the sanctions target Abdulrahman Juma Barakallah, a general who commands the RSF in West Darfur and who, according to the EU Council, is responsible for ethnically motivated killings, attacks on human rights activists and conflict-related sexual violence, and looting and pillaging of communities, among other things. Also new on the EU sanctions list are Mustafa Ibrahim Abdel Nabi Mohamed, financial advisor to the RSF, and Masar Abdurahman Aseel, a leader of the Mahamid clan from West Darfur, who is alleged to have supported numerous RSF attacks. On the military side (SAF), the Director General of the Defence Industry System (DIS), a conglomerate of Sudanese arms companies that supplies the army with weapons, ammunition and vehicles, is now also listed, after the company has been sanctioned by the EU since January. Furthermore, sanctions were imposed on El Tahir Mohamed El Awad El Amin, the commander of the Sudanese Air Force, who is accused of being responsible for indiscriminate airstrikes on densely populated residential areas since the beginning of the conflict, and on Ali Ahmed Karti Mohamed, a former Sudanese foreign minister under the government of Omar al-Bashir. The sanctions include the freezing of all assets of the listed individuals and a ban on travelling to the EU. In addition, it is prohibited to provide them directly or indirectly with funds or other economic resources.

This is the first time that the EU has imposed sanctions on individuals under the Sudan sanctions regime; previously, these only affected entities supporting the RSF and SAF fighting. These include sanctions against the SAF-affiliated company DIS and two other defence companies, SMT Engineering and adna International Company for Investment Limited. Al Junaid Multi Activities Co Ltd, Tradive General Trading and GSK Advance Company Ltd, two defense companies which are close to the RSF, are also sanctioned. The EU’s long hesitation to impose sanctions on individuals who are partly responsible for the escalation of violence in Sudan was particularly criticised by human rights organisations such as Human Rights Watch. They accused the EU of acting too slowly and inappropriately to the dynamics of the conflict. Actors such as the US had already taken this step last year and specifically placed leaders of both warring parties on their sanctions list. The EU should also push for the full implementation of the existing UN arms embargo on Darfur. The Sudanese government accuses the United Arab Emirates (UAE), among others, of supplying the RSF with weapons and profiting from the war. In this regard, representatives of Sudan and the UAE clashed at a meeting of the UN Security Council on 18 June. Russia and Iran, on the other hand, are supporting the Sudanese army. The US ambassador to the United Nations, Linda Thomas-Greenfield, recently expressed her concern about international interference in the conflict and called for a halt to arms deliveries.

Meanwhile, the humanitarian situation in Sudan continues to worsen. According to the United Nations (UN), the war has already claimed at least 15,000 lives across the country and around 8.8 million people have been displaced. Most recently, the fighting escalated in El-Fasher, the provincial capital of North Darfur, whereupon the UN Security Council passed UN Resolution 2736 on 13 June by 14 votes to zero with one abstention from Russia. In the resolution, the Security Council called on the RSF to immediately cease fighting and end the siege of El-Fasher. In addition, both warring parties were urged to respect the protection of the civilian population.



Namibia’s High Court overturns anti-homosexuality law


Last Friday, the High Court in Namibia declared a law that criminalised same-sex acts between men to be unconstitutional. The law, which criminalised “sodomy” and “unnatural sexual acts”, dated back to the colonial era, but was not amended even after Namibia’s independence from South Africa in 1990. Although the law, which explicitly only affected men, was hardly ever applied, it nevertheless fuelled fears of discrimination and criminal prosecution of homosexuality. The process was initiated by the Namibian activist Friedel Dausab, who filed a lawsuit at the High Court against the violation of his constitutionally guaranteed human rights by the law. He was supported by the UK-based Human Dignity Trust. The High Court agreed and stated in its reasoning that the law would criminalise sexual practices solely on the basis of gender, which violates the principle of equal treatment.

Although the judgement in Windhoek was celebrated as an important legal success for the LGBTQ community, same-sex marriage is still not permitted in Namibia and only in May last year, a judgement by the High Court led to an increase in hate crimes against LGBTQ people. At the time, the court ruled that non-Namibian spouses of same-sex marriages contracted abroad must be granted residency rights in Namibia, which was met with fierce criticism from religious groups and politicians alike. As a result, parliament passed two new bills that define marriage exclusively as a union between a man and a woman and at the same time criminalise the witnessing, support or promotion of same-sex unions. Depending on the severity of the offence, the penalty can be up to six years imprisonment. However, the bills have not yet been signed by the President and have therefore not yet come into force. It remains to be seen whether the president will sign them – also in view of the upcoming election campaign.

Anti-LGBTQ legislation has also recently been tightened in many other African countries. According to the Human Dignity Trust, of the 64 countries worldwide that criminalise same-sex relationships, 31 are in Africa. Last year, Uganda passed one of the toughest anti-LGBTQ laws in the world, which provides for the death penalty for “aggravated homosexuality”. The Ghanaian parliament also passed a law in February that provides for a prison sentence of up to five years for the wilful promotion and support of LGBTQ+ activities. However, it has not yet been signed by Ghana’s President Akufo-Addo. Only South Africa has completely decriminalised same-sex acts and is the only African country that allows LGBTQ couples to adopt children, marry and enter into civil partnerships – years before this was the case in Germany.



In other news


The 23rd African Senior Athletics Championships ended on Thursday in Duala, Cameroon. Almost 800 athletes from all over African took part in the competition. In the end, South Africa took first place with a total of 20 medals, followed by Kenya with 19 and Nigeria with 15. The winners qualified for the upcoming Olympic Games in Paris. However, the competitions were overshadowed by organisational errors, technical difficulties, such as starting signals, logistical challenges and the poor condition of the stadiums. For example, the start of the tournament was delayed because the competitions had to be moved to a different stadium, whose track was also criticised by the athletes. The next edition of the African Senior Athletics Championships will take place in Ghana in 2026.


Breaking news: Kenya’s president withdraws new tax bill


On Wednesday, Kenya’s President William Ruto announced that he was withdrawing the tax increases planned in the Financial Bill 2024 and thus giving in to the pressure of the nationwide protests that have been going on for a week (press review week 25/2024). Demonstrators had previously stormed parliament on Tuesday to protest against the passing of the new law. According to official figures, at least 22 people died and 300 were injured. After the storming of parliament, the military was also deployed in the streets of Nairobi; Kenya’s High Court declared the deployment permissible on Thursday evening following a complaint by the Kenya Law Society, but demanded a public announcement on the duration and scope of the deployment within the next two days. The withdrawal of the law is seen as a major success for the protest movement, which is mainly led by young people, but protests continued on Thursday in Nairobi and several other cities in light of the deaths so far and the unexplained disappearance of various influencers, posing new challenges for Ruto’s government.

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