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EU to consolidate new sanctions against Russia

The European Union is considering the approval of a legal reform that would strengthen sanction regime against Russia, Iran and Syria.

EU to consolidate new sanctions against Russia

According to The Wall Street Journal, the European Union intends to adopt a legal reform that would strengthen its sanctions on Iran, Syria and Russia. "The bloc's member states will be offered a channel for offering confidential evidence to judges," the journalist Laurence Norman informs.

The legislative amendments are expected to be adopted next month. "The approval…follows more than a year of consultations among EU capitals after a series of defeats in the bloc's top courts. U.S. officials also were pushing the EU to take action to reinforce the bloc's sanctions," the article writes.

Some representatives of Iran and Syria have successfully challenged the EU's decision on sanctions, because some member states have refused to share sensitive intelligence information demanded by the courts.

According to the regulations, all relevant evidence provided in a case must be shared with lawyers challenging EU decision, the correspondent explains.

The lost cases make EU move slowly during the Ukraine crisis to be sure that Russia or Donbas separatists will not be able to successfully contest the restrictions, the author writes.

However, the new legal rules can be criticized in EU by lawyers and human rights activists, who claim that the amendments may provide the states with "legal odds in favor of governments."

The new rule is that "the EU would provide judges with material that the judges would have some time to assess. If they felt it wasn't relevant or had no grounds to keep it confidential, the EU could either allow the evidence to be shared or could withdraw it on the understanding the judges wouldn't factor the material into their decision," the author writes.

However, if the judges deem that "the information is important and there are grounds for classifying it, they can take advantage of these evidence provided that EU member states to provide" non-confidential summary "with the best possible information," the journalist said.

"In exceptional cases, when the information "was relevant and there were "overriding reasons" for keeping it confidential, they could draw on the evidence on the condition member states provide a "nonconfidential summary" of the material with as much information as possible," the publication writes.

Sarosh Zaiwalla, the lawyer at Zaiwalla & Co Solicitors, representing Iranian Bank Tejarat in court noted that "the secret courts" should be used "only in the face of extreme threats, like terrorism," but not on political decisions like sanctions.