On November 23, 2015, following reports of ongoing violence in Burundi since the disputed reelection of President Pierre Nkurunziza in April of this year, President Obama issued a new Executive Order (EO) declaring the violence and human rights abuses and conditions in Burundi—including arbitrary arrests, political repression and targeted killings of civilians—to be a threat to the national security of the United States.
The EO does not target the people of Burundi, but rather four of Burundi’s current and former government officials who the Obama administration believes are responsible for, are complicit in, or who have contributed to conditions that threaten Burundi’s security and stability. The sanctions block the property and property interests of the named individuals that are subject to U.S. jurisdiction or in the possession of U.S. persons.
The EO also expands the basis for making further sanctions designations beyond those outlined in the EO to address more generally the violence and human rights abuses in Burundi, including such activities directed against United Nations peacekeepers. Notably, the EO provides the authority to sanction persons who have materially assisted, sponsored or supported such actions.
The establishment of this new sanctions program creates additional risk for companies doing business in Burundi. While the current sanctions are limited to a small number of individuals, companies should ensure that they are conducting robust due diligence with their counterparties in Burundi.