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April 15, 2010

Obama order may prohibit ransom payments to pirates

President Obama has issued an executive order that some commentators believe may prohibit shipowners from paying ransoms to pirates. In conjunction with the issue of the executive order, the U.S. Treasury's Office of Foreign Asset Controls (OFAC) issued a list of Somali individuals and organizations that have been added to its SDN list. U.S. persons are prohibited from having any dealings with persons on the SDN list.

Following is the text of the executive order:

TO THE CONGRESS OF THE UNITED STATES:

Consistent with subsection 204(b) of the International Emergency Economic Powers Act, 50 U.S.C. 1703(b) (IEEPA), and section 301 of the National Emergencies Act, 50 U.S.C. 1631 (NEA), I hereby report that I have issued an Executive Order (the "order") blocking the property of certain persons contributing to the conflict in Somalia. In that order, I declared a national emergency to deal with the unusual and extraordinary threat to the national security and foreign policy of the United States posed by that conflict, as described below.

The United Nations Security Council, in Resolution 1844 of November 20, 2008, reaffirmed its condemnation of all acts of violence in Somalia and incitement to violence inside Somalia, and expressed its concern at all acts intended to prevent or block a peaceful political process. United Nations Security Council Resolution (UNSCR) 1844 also expressed grave concern over the recent increase in acts of piracy and armed robbery at sea against vessels off the coast of Somalia, and noted the role piracy may play in financing violations of the arms embargo on Somalia imposed by UNSCR 733 of January 23, 1992. In UNSCR 1844, the United Nations Security Council determined that the situation in Somalia poses a threat to international peace and security in the region and called on member States to apply certain measures against persons responsible for the continuing conflict. The United Nations Security Council has continued to express grave concern about the crisis in Somalia in UNSCR 1846 of December 2, 2008, UNSCR 1851 of December 16, 2008, and UNSCR 1872 of May 26, 2009.

Pursuant to the IEEPA and the NEA, I have determined that the deterioration of the security situation and the persistence of violence in Somalia, and acts of piracy and armed robbery at sea off the coast of Somalia, constitute an unusual and extraordinary threat to the national security and foreign policy of the United States. The order declares a national emergency to deal with this threat.

The order is not targeted at the entire country of Somalia, but rather is intended to target those who threaten peace and stability in Somalia, who inhibit the delivery of humanitarian assistance to Somalia or the distribution of such assistance in Somalia, or who supply arms or related materiel in violation of the arms embargo. The order blocks the property and interests in property in the United States, or in the possession or control of United States persons, of the persons listed in the Annex to the order, as well as of any person determined by the Secretary of the Treasury, in consultation with the Secretary of State:

to have engaged in acts that directly or indirectly threaten the peace, security, or stability of Somalia, including but not limited to (1) acts that threaten the Djibouti Agreement of August 18, 2008, or the political process, or (2) acts that threaten the Transitional Federal Institutions, the African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM), or other international peacekeeping operations related to Somalia;

to have obstructed the delivery of humanitarian assistance to Somalia, or access to, or distribution of, humanitarian assistance in Somalia; or

to have directly or indirectly supplied, sold, or transferred to Somalia, or to have been the recipient in the territory of Somalia of, arms or any related materiel, or any technical advice, training, or assistance, including financing and financial assistance, related to military activities.

The designation criteria will be applied in accordance with applicable Federal law including, where appropriate, the First Amendment to the United States Constitution. The designation criteria will also be applied taking into consideration the arms embargo on Somalia imposed by UNSCR 733 of January 23, 1992, as elaborated upon and amended by subsequent resolutions.

The order also authorizes the Secretary of the Treasury, in consultation with the Secretary of State, to designate for blocking any person determined to have materially assisted, sponsored, or provided financial, material, logistical, or technical support for, or goods or services in support of, the activities described above or any person whose property and interests in property are blocked pursuant to the order. I determined that, among other threats to the peace, security, or stability of Somalia, acts of piracy or armed robbery at sea off the coast of Somalia threaten the peace, security, or stability of Somalia. I further authorized the Secretary of the Treasury, in consultation with the Secretary of State, to designate for blocking any person (defined as an individual or entity) determined to be owned or controlled by, or to have acted or purported to act for or on behalf of, directly or indirectly, any person whose property and interests in property are blocked pursuant to the order.

I delegated to the Secretary of the Treasury, in consultation with the Secretary of State, the authority to take such actions, including the promulgation of rules and regulations, and to employ all powers granted to the President by IEEPA and the United Nations Participation Act, as may be necessary to carry out the purposes of the order. All executive agencies are directed to take all appropriate measures within their authority to carry out the provisions of the order.

The order, a copy of which is enclosed, became effective at 12:01 a.m. eastern daylight time on April 13, 2010.

BARACK OBAMA

THE WHITE HOUSE,

April 13, 2010.

You can access the OFAC list of Somali individuals added to the SDN list HERE


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