Please note: this observatory is no longer updated.
Latest news and documentation (Statewatch terrorist lists site, updated 18 September 2009).
September 2009 - Terrorism Lists, Executive Powers and Human Rights (flyer) International conference, Brussels, 20 October 2009. For more information see www.ecchr.org.
June 2009 - EU renews terrorist list - Common Position 2009/468/CFSP of 15 June 2009 (pdf)
June 2009 - Court of First Instance follows Kadi and annuls annulled the listing of Omar Mohammed Othman (aka Abu Qatada) (Court Press release, 11.6.09 pdf): Despite the ruling it is explicitly assumed that the Council will now re-list him following the new procedures introduced in the light of Kadi (see further below). The full text of the judgment is available here.
June 2009 - Blocking Faith, Freezing Charity: Charitable Giving and the "War on Terrorism Financing": The American Civil Liberties Union has released a comprehensive report documenting the consequence of U.S. government actions on American Muslims' exercise of their right to profess and practice their religion through charitable giving. The ACLU's research shows that U.S. terrorism financing policies and practices are seriously undermining American Muslims' protected constitutional liberties and violating their fundamental human rights to freedom of religion, freedom of association, and freedom from discrimination.
May 2009 - Libyan included on UN sanctions list submits new case at EU Court (pdf): Case T-127/09, Abdulbasit Abdulrahim v. Council of the European Union and Commission of the European Communities.
May 2009 - Staggering 65-year sentences given to Directors of US Charity in Hamas aid case (Al Jazeera, 28.5.2009): A US court has sentenced the former heads of a Muslim charity to 65 years in prison for providing aid to the Palestinian group Hamas. The sentences have been appealed. See also ACLU: Designating Non-Profits As Terrorist Organizations Without Due Process Undermines Security And Humanitarian Aid (link, American Civil Liberties Union press release, 27.2.02) and "Terror Prosecutions Shed More Heat Than Light" on a previous prosecution of the Holy Land Foundation for 'material support' for terrorism.
May 2009 - USA: Justice Dept. Finds Flaws in F.B.I. Terror List (link: NY Times, 6.5.09): The Federal Bureau of Investigation has incorrectly kept nearly 24,000 people on a terrorist watch list on the basis of outdated or sometimes irrelevant information, while missing people with genuine ties to terrorism who should have been on the list.
May 2009 - Overdue Process: Protecting Human Rights while Sanctioning Alleged Terrorists (pdf): Report from the Fourth Freedom Forum and Kroc Institute for International Peace Studies at the University of Notre Dame to CORDAID arguing that practices used by the United Nations Security Council in the name of countering terrorism have led to serious concerns about violations of human rights and limitations on the work of civil society groups. The use of blacklisting has eroded due process rights and discredited elements of the international fight against terrorism. Enhanced efforts to create clear and fair listing procedures are urgently needed and long overdue.
May 2009 - Home Office publishes list of 'bad people' banned from entering the UK (link, Guardian 5.6.09). See also Shock jock banned from UK vows to sue Jacqui Smith (link, Guardian 6.6.09).
April 2009 - Lawsuits Challenge Charity Blacklisting (link, antiwar.com, March 2004): In two court cases that could test the limits of the Barrack Obama administration's executive authority as well as its commitment to transparency, human rights lawyers are challenging the government's right to use information obtained through warrantless wiretapping as evidence and to shut down charitable organizations without allowing them to defend themselves. In one case, the government shut down the Al-Haramain Islamic Foundation, a Saudi charity, in 2004, allegedly using information obtained though illegal wiretaps. In the other, also involving a Muslim-oriented charity, the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) is challenging the constitutionality of government programs that designate organizations as "terrorists" and close them down without providing these groups a way to contest the decision in court.
April 2009 - Multilateral Sanctions Against Terror Suspects and the Violation of Due Process Standards (International Affairs, Chatham House, March 2009): Report by Monika Heupel finds that "that court decisions and proceedings and, in the case of the UN, falling commitment from member states, have prompted the UN Security Council and the Council of the EU to implement limited reforms. However, courts did not challenge the sanctions regimes per se and there was no substantial pressure from civil society actors. Moreover, owing to the competences and working methods of the UN Security Council and the Council of the EU, powerful member states could fairly easily deflect reform proposals from disaffected states and other UN and EU bodies". See also UN and EU Sanctions: Human Rights and the Fight Against Terrorism - The Kadi Case, International Law Discussion Group Summary Chatham House, February 2009.
April 2009 - Sison case returns to Court in ongoing challenge to EU terrorist blacklist: Press release from European Centre for Constitutional and Human Rights in advance of the 'Sison II' hearing in Luxembourg on 30 April 2009 (case T-341/07). Sison is challenging the accuracy and legitimacy of the 'statement of reasons' upon which the Council of the EU now bases its decision to freeze his assets and included him in the 'terrorist list'. See also pre-hearing report of the court rapporteur, abbreviated defence application and www.echr.eu.
April 2009 - Commission proposals in response to Kadi (COM (2009) 187, 22 April 2009). The European Commission has presented its eagerly anticipated proposal to amend the EC Regulations implementing the UN 'terrorist list' in response to the celebrated EU Court of Justice ruling in Kadi and Al-Barakaat of September 2008. If adopted, the proposal would introduce the equivalent listing and de-listing procedures for those followed for the EU's own 'terrorist list' since the ECJ ruling of December 2006 in the PMOI case. The proposal would require the UN Security Council's Sanctions Committee to communicate a 'statement of reasons' explaining any decision to designate a group or individual as a 'terrorist' (or 'terrorist supporter'/associate) for the purposes of asset-freezing to the European Commission. The Commission will then decide on the basis of this statement whether to transpose the UN sanctions committee decision into EU law. If it does so - and there must be little, if any, expectation that it will refuse - it will then communicate the statement to the affected party, which will in turn be given the opportunity to make representations to the secret EC Committee that will assist the Commission in preparing its decisions (this committee will presumably be comprised of the same officials as the secret working party which assists the EU in preparing its 'proscription' decisions). Since neither the EU Council nor the European Commission is yet to provide any meaningful response indicating consideration of representations challenging a 'statement of reasons', applicants will inevitably turn to the EU Courts (which is precisely what has happened in the fresh proceedings launched by Kadi and Al-Barakaat; see cases referred to below). Groups and individuals listed prior to the new 'post-Kadi' regime will have to apply for a statement of reasons from the EC (and must provide a postal address other than a PO Box). The new regime will create a somewhat bizarre situation in which groups, individuals and businesses who are included on the United Nations' terrorist list and resident/operating in the European Union will have more rights in practice than those outside of the EU - a situation which can hardly be squared with the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and other UN 'founding principles'. Ben Hayes comments: "In the light of the Kadi ruling, this proposal represents the absolute minimum that the European Commission could have done. But both the EU and the UN still have a very long way to go before they can claim to respect the fundamental rights they upon which they were founded". Those who wish to examine the Commission proposals in detail will need to refer to Regulation 881/2002/EC to make sense of the planned amendments.
March 2009 - Danish T-shirt sellers convicted of financing terrorism (link: guardian.co.uk, 25.3.2009). Six Danish activists who sold T-shirts bearing the logos of two groups classified by the EU as terrorist organisations have been found guilty of financing terrorism. Denmark's supreme court ruled that the six - all members of the Fighters+Lovers collective - were found to have contravened the country's anti-terror laws by selling T-shirts to help fund the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (Farc), and the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP). For background see: Rebellion case.
March 2009 - New pending cases at EU courts: Case C-27/09 P, Appeal by France against judgment in Case T-284/08 (see PMOI, below); Case T-85/09, Kadi v. Commission; Case T-45/09 (application not yet listed), Al Barakaat International Foundation v. Commission (for background see update of November 2008, below).
February 2009 - ACLU: Designating Non-Profits As Terrorist Organizations Without Due Process Undermines Security And Humanitarian Aid (link, American Civil Liberties Union press release, 27.2.02). Several of the USA's top non-profit humanitarian and philanthropic organizations have submitted arguments to a federal court stating that the government's authority and conduct in freezing a charity's assets undermines critical humanitarian aid and the government's own anti-terrorism efforts. See Amicus Brief filed in support of due process rights for KindHearts for Charitable Humanitarian Development, Inc. in a case brought by the American Civil Liberties Union, the ACLU of Ohio and several civil rights lawyers.
February 2009 - Europe opens covert talks with blacklisted Hamas (link, Independent, 19 February 2009)
January 2009 - PMOI finally removed from EU "terrorist list". In its latest update of the "terrorist list", adopted on 26 January 2008, the EU has finally removed the People's Mujahadeen Organisation of Iran (PMOI) from the list of proscribed organisations. The EU placed the PMOI on the list in 2002 and has until now refused to remove the group - despite three rulings from the EU's Court of First Instance (CFI) that the PMOI's proscription was unlawful. The first successful challenge to EU terrorist list by PMOI in December 2006 led to modest reforms by the EU (the "statement of reasons" and the possibility of appeal to the EU's secret terrorist proscription working group). This was sufficient for the EU to argue that it had remedied the earlier human rights infringements and maintain the PMOI in the updated lists it adopts every six months; the PMOI appealed each of these decisions to the European Courts. In 2007 a UK court also ruled that the PMOI's inclusion on the UK terrorist was unlawful and in 2008 the government lost its appeal. With the national decision that "justified" the EU decision in the first place now unlawful as well, it took two further rulings by the CFI before the EU Council (comprised of member states governments) finally relinquished. Some 7 million euros in frozen assets belonging to the PMOI will now be released. France has appealed the latest Court ruling. An earlier request by France to delay the Court's annulment of the relevant EC Regulation was rejected (France had argued that the three months the Court gave the EU to respond to its ruling in Kadi (below) had set a precedent).
Here is a chronology of the seven year proceedings:
17 June 2002 - EU includes PMOI in list of "terrorist groups"
26 July 2002 - PMOI lodges first application (case T-228/02)
12 December 2006 - CFI rules PMOI inclusion on terrorist list unlawful (case T-228/02)
[EU maintains PMOI on the terrorist list]
9 May 2007 - PMOI submits new case (case T-157/07)
16 July 2007 - PMOI submits new case challenging continued inclusion (case T-256/07)
30 November 2007 - UK Court rules inclusion of PMOI on UK terrorist list unlawful
7 May 2008 - UK government loses appeal against PMOI decision
21 July 2008 - PMOI submits new case at ECJ challenging continued inclusion on grounds of UK rulings (case T-284/08)
23 October 2008 - CFI rules PMOI inclusion on list unlawful (case T-256/07)
22 December 2008 - CFI rejects request by EU Council and France to delay annulment of Council Decision (case T-284/08)
23 December 2008 - PMOI appeals parts of the judgment of the Court of First of 23 October 2008 (Case C-576/08 P)
21 January 2008 - France appeals CFI ruling (Case C-27/09 P)
26 January 2009 - PMOI officially removed from EU terrorist list
January 2009 - Kadi sues Paulson and US Treasury (complaint filed 16 January 2009, full-text): Saudi citizen Yassin Abdullah Kadi has sued Henry Paulson, Adam Szubin, and the U.S. Treasury Department's Office of Foreign Asset Control challenging his "wrongful and unconscionable designation" as a "Specially Designated Global Terrorist" in October 2001. Kadi describes his experience as a "Kafkaesque journey without due process", as he argues that "the designation is not supported by the administrative record, and that the designation and review process violated his First, Fourth, and Fifth Amendment rights, the International Emergency Economic Powers Act (IEEPA) and the Administrative Procedure Act (APA) (source: http://www.nefafoundation.org/).
January 2009 - UK: "Britain's financial Guantanamo" enshrined in Counter Terrorism Act 2008 (link to Act, full text): Following Justice Collins' ruling in April 2008 (below) that measures introduced to freeze terrorist assets were unlawful because they had not been authorised or sanctioned by Parliament, the government incorporated (and extended) the controversial Treasury asset-freezing regime into its latest Counter-Terrorism Bill (introduced 24 January 2008, the government's fifth Bill in eight years). The-Counter Terrorism Act (2008) entered the statute on 26 November 2008. The relevant powers for the Treasury in respect to terrorist financing and money laundering (note the function creep) are set out in Parts 5 and 6 and Schedule 7 of the Act. The Act applies to all existing Treasury powers in respect to terrorist financing: the "Terrorism" and "Al-Qa'ida" Orders (those struck down by Collins), Part 2 of the Anti-Terrorism, Crime and Security Act 2001 (ATCSA) and the new powers in Schedule 7. The Treasury is empowered to give directions - orders to freeze assets or prohibit financial and material support in respect to specific persons, entities or countries - on the grounds of designation of a "non-cooperating country" by the Financial Action Task Force (an unaccountable intergovernmental body) or where it "reasonably believes" that terrorism financing (very broadly defined in effect), money laundering or the development/production of CBRN [chemical, biological, radiological, nuclear] weapons is taking place. UN Security Council and EU decisions "designating" persons and entities as terrorist financers are also enforced by the Treasury.
In addition to orders to freeze assets and prohibit financial transactions mandated by the UN, the directions that the Treasury can impose on the commercial and public sector include obligations to perform or enforce "due diligence", surveillance, "systematic reporting" and winding-up orders (to shut-down businesses) in respect to designated persons. The directions that the Treasury can impose on the designated persons themselves, their families and associates are open-ended and draconian, see "Britain's Financial Guantanamo". The Act also allows police officers to enter and search any premises they suspect are being used by or for a designating person without a warrant. The Act includes a right of judicial review of the Treasury's actions for any person affected by financial restrictions decisions. However, the rights the Act grants with one hand, it systematically dismantles with the other, introducing special proceedings (SIAC/POAC style tribunals), special non-disclosure rules (secret evidence) and special advocates (court appointed lawyers). The Act also allows, for the first time in British criminal proceedings, the use of telecommunications intercept evidence. In sum, the new Act has significantly extended the "exceptional" legal regime introduced by ATCSA, Control Orders and "national security" detentions and expulsions.
Finally, the Act reserved powers to the Government over implementation and future extension of the scope and function of the regime. This included powers for the Lord Chancellor to make changes to the UK's civil procedural law to implement the new Act's special procedures. See Statutory Instrument No. 3085 (L.26) 2008, made: 2 December; laid before Parliament: 3 December; entered into force: 4 December 2008. See also explanatory memorandum on SI 3085 (L.26) 2008.
December 2008 - United Nations Human Rights Committee finds inclusion of Belgian citizens on UN "terrorist list" in violation of ICCPR (HRC Decision, 29 December 2008, full-text). The complaint was bought by Mr. Nabil Sayadi and Ms. Patricia Vinck (both Belgian citizens), the director and secretary of Fondation Secours International [reportedly the European branch of the Global Relief Foundation, an American association that has been on the sanctions list since 22 October 2002], against Belgium. Following a criminal investigation by the Belgian authorities, their names were placed on the lists appended to the Security Council resolution (23 January 2003), the European Union Council Regulation (27 January 2003) and a Belgian ministerial order (31 January 2003), but they were not given access to the relevant information justifying their listing. The authors submitted several requests in 2003 to Belgian ministers and the Prime Minister, the European authorities, the United Nations and the Belgian civil authorities. The ministers invoked the Belgian States international obligations, the European Commission said it had no authority to remove the names of the plaintiffs from a list drawn up by the Sanctions Committee, and the Prime Minister simply referred to the fact that an investigation was under way to examine new evidence - neither of the plaintiffs had been charged with a criminal offence. On 11 February 2005, they obtained from the Brussels Court of First Instance an order requiring the Belgian State to initiate the procedure to have their names removed from the Sanctions Committees list. While there was relevant information to hand - namely the absence of any indictment of the authors in February 2004 - the Belgian State did not initiate the de-listing procedure. The Court ordered the Belgian State to urgently initiate a de-listing procedure with the United Nations Sanctions Committee and to provide the petitioners with proof thereof, under penalty of a daily fine of ¬250 for delay in performance. Pursuant to this order, on 25 February 2005 the State party requested the Sanctions Committee to delist the authors. Over a year later, no decision had been taken by the Sanctions Committee so their lawyers lodged a complaint with the UN Human Rights Committee asserting violations of their human rights under the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. The Judges Chambers of the Brussels Court of First Instance also confirmed the plaintiffs innocence, dismissing the case on 19 December 2005 after more than three years of criminal investigation. Neither of these two decisions has been appealed. In its Decision, published 29 December 2008, the Committee concluded that there had been breaches of the two Belgian's rights under articles 12 and 17 of the ICCPR [Article 12 covers freedom of movement and the freedom to leave any country while article 17 recognizes the right of everyone to protection against arbitrary or unlawful interference with his privacy, family, home or correspondence, and against unlawful attacks on his honour and reputation].The Committee found that "the facts, taken together, do not disclose that the restrictions of the authors rights to leave the country were necessary to protect national security or public order" [article 12] and ruled that "even though the State party is not competent to remove the authors names from the United Nations and European lists, it is responsible for the presence of the authors names on those lists" and "an unlawful attack on the authors honour and reputation" [article 17]
December 2008 - Security Council 6043rd Meeting (AM), 15 December 2008 - no progress on implementing Kadi: "Jan Grauls (Belgium), speaking as Chair of the Al-Qaida and Taliban sanctions Committee said that resolution 1822 (a milestone in the life of the Committee established pursuant to resolution 1267 (1999) on Al-Qaida and the Taliban - had introduced several important innovations with regard to the listing and de-listing procedures, the notification of sanctioned individuals and entities, the posting of narrative summaries of reasons for listing on the Committee's website and the review mechanisms. Those improvements had added to the transparency, fairness and clarity of the sanctions regime. He said Committee members had committed themselves to transposing resolution 1822 in a new framework for the practical implementation of the new mechanisms before the end of the year. The new framework would form a solid basis for the next Chair. However, one could not ignore the international context in which those developments had occurred. Security Council sanctions regimes, increasingly under pressure, had recently been questioned, especially in light of the need for fair and clear procedures for listing, de-listing and granting of humanitarian exemptions. The Al-Qaida and Taliban sanctions Committee had not made significant progress in that regard, but everyone must remain committed to ensuring that more attention was given to those concerns (source: The Lift)".
December 2008: Commissioner for Human Rights: "Arbitrary procedures for terrorist black-listing must now be changed" (link): Thomas Hammarberg, Council of Europe Commissioner for Human Rights, adds to the critique of the international proscription regime, stating that "the UN and the EU must themselves respect the human rights standards on which they are based".
November 2008: Court of Appeal overturns High Court decision to quash Treasury asset-freezing regime (judgment of 30 October 2008, full-text): The Court of Appeal has overturned April's stunning High Court judgment, ruling that the statutory orders enacted by the government to implement UN regulations and facilitate domestic asset-freezing are lawful. For background see: Britain's financial Guantanamo.
November 2008: Kadi and Al Barakaat maintained in EU and UN terrorist lists - Commission considers the listing "justified": (Commission Regulation 1190/2008/EC of 28 November 2008). Despite the ruling of the European Court of Justice in September that the Council Regulation freezing their assets was unlawful, the European Commission has decided to maintain Yassin Abdullah Kadi and the Al Barakaat International Foundation in the EU "terrorist list" on the grounds that "the listing of [the parties] is justified for reasons of its association with the Al-Qaida network". In response to the ECJ's ruling, the European Commission "communicated the narrative summaries of reasons provided by the UN Al-Qaida and Taliban Sanctions Committee, to Mr Kadi and to Al Barakaat International Foundation and [gave] them the opportunity to comment on these grounds in order to make their point of view known". Mr Kadi's lawyers duly responded in a letter dated 10 November 2008, which the European Commission simply dismissed on the grounds that the "preventive nature of the freezing of funds and economic resources" justifies the ongoing violation of Mr. Kadi's fundamental rights. The Commission, effectively acting as judge, jury and executioner, states that its response "compl[ies] with the judgment of the Court of Justice". With the Swiss Attorney general having dropped all investigations into Mr. Kadi's finances (a Swiss Court cleared him of any links to 9/11 in December 2005), the international courts to which the case will now inevitably return are unlikely to agree that this justifies the continued denial of access to his $9 million and other ongoing damages. "It would have been better to have this system at the U.N. level, for them to decide," said Gilles de Kerchove, the E.U. counterterrorism coordinator. "Of course it would", adds Ben Hayes of Statewatch, "but wouldn't it have been better still for the EU's executive to follow the convictions of Europe's courts?"
November 2008 - Washington Post: Terrorism Financing Blacklists At Risk (link): Useful article on UN terrorist lists published 2 November 2008. Includes updates on the Kadi and Nada cases.
September 2008 - EU implementation of UN Security Council's 'terrorist list' breaches fundamental rights - Kadi and Al Barakaat Foundation asset-freeze unlawful. In a judgment with far-reaching implications the European Court of Justice has today [3 September 2008] annulled the Council Regulation freezing the assets of Yassin Abdullah Kadi, a resident of Saudi Arabia, and the Al Barakaat International Foundation of Sweden, part of the 'Hawala' banking system used by the Somali Diaspora to transfer funds internationally.
June 2008 - The EU and UN terrorist lists and the European Courts: The slow road to procedural justice (seminar 19 June 2008). First in a series of four seminars on "Terrorist lists", proscription, designation and human rights organised by Haldane, Statewatch and CAMPACC.
June 2008 - Lloyds TSB expects £180m bill for US blacklist breach (link, The Times, 6 June 2008). Lloyds TSB will take a £180 million hit to its first-half figures as it prepares to pay a multimillion-dollar settlement for breaking US rules on dealing with sponsors of terrorism. See also US Department of State list of "State sponsors of terrorism" (link).
May 2008 - UK Government loses appeal against de-proscription of PMOI - how long before the EU backs down? The Court of Appeal has refused to overturn a ruling that it must end the "perverse" listing of an Iranian opposition group as a banned terrorist group, ruling that there were "no valid grounds" to contend that the Proscribed Organisations Appeal Commission made legal errors when it ordered the People's Mojahedin Organisation of Iran (PMOI) to be removed from the 'blacklist' (AP, 7.5.08). In December 2006, the EU Court of Justice ruled that the PMOI should be removed for from the EU terrorist list, partly on the grounds that the reasons for its inclusion were "unclear". But the EU has steadfastly refused to remove them from the list, a position that now appears wholly untenable.
Breaking news 24 April 2008 - High Court quashes Treasury asset-freezing regime
In a High Court judgment today of the highest constitutional importance, Mr Justice Collins has ordered that Government measures introduced to freeze terrorist assets were unlawful and should be struck down as they had not been authorised or sanctioned by Parliament. The measures contained in the Terrorism (United Nations Measures) Order 2006 and the Al-Qaida and Taliban (United Nations Measures) Order 2006 were introduced directly by the Government through Orders in Council to implement United Nations Security Council Resolutions to strengthen domestic controls on the financing of terrorism and to comply with the British Governments international obligations to enforce UN Resolutions requiring such controls. They have never been scrutinised, debated or approved by Parliament.
Ben Hayes of Statewatch comments:
"The government has again shown itself all too willing to sacrifice basic freedoms in the 'war on terror' - the Orders declared unlawful today could scarcely have intruded further into the fundamental rights and liberties of UK citizens.
The High Court has sent an unequivocal message to the government: a regime of this nature should never have been introduced without consulting Parliament. It must be hoped that MPs will look very closely at the way the Treasury has been using these powers before endorsing such a draconian regime in future".
On the Governments circumvention of Parliament, Mr Justice Collins said in his judgment:
Counsel for the applicants have submitted that the means used to apply the obligations imposed by the UN Resolutions is unlawful. Parliament has been bypassed by the use of Orders in Council. But in deciding the appropriate way in which the obligation should be applied and in particular in creating the criminal offences set out in the Orders it was necessary that Parliamentary approval should be obtained. Those submissions are in my judgment entirely persuasive.
On the extraordinary nature of the Treasury regime, Mr Justice Collins said:
"The very wide definition of economic resources makes it impossible for members of the family of the designated person in particular to know whether they are committing an offence or a licence is needed... A specific query arose, and it is a good illustration of the absurdity which can result, in relation to the loan of a car to an applicant to enable him to go to the supermarket to get the familys groceries. After some delay, the Treasury (in my view wrongly) decided that a licence was needed. The car was an economic resource and could be used to obtain or deliver goods or services. This was only resolved by the Treasury after seeking ministerial consideration. Similar concerns have been raised in relation to an Oyster card to enable the applicant to travel and any borrowing of items for any purpose. Since the possible penalty on conviction is severe, the concerns are understandable and the effect on the applicant and his family, whose human rights are also in issue, is serious".
The government is to appeal and can be expected to demand an expeditious hearing on the grounds that the quashing of the Al-Qaida and Taliban Order leaves it in breach of its obligations under international law.
'G', 'K', 'A', 'M', and 'Q' v. H.M. Treasury: Judgment - full-text (24 April 2004)
Press release: Birnberg-Peirce, Tuckers & Public Law Solicitors (24 April 2004)
For full background see: Britain's financial Guantanamo (Statewatch, 21 April 2004).
April 2008 - Britain's financial Guantanamo: This Thursday [24 April 2008], Mr Justice Collins of the High Court will deliver his judgment the case of 'G', 'K', 'A', 'M', and 'Q' v. H.M. Treasury. In the words of Rabinder Singh QC, "the facts of the case are reminiscent of an Austro-Hungarian novel". At issue are two 'Orders in Council' adopted under the 1946 United Nations Act. This Act allows the government to introduce domestic law to implement UN agreements - in this case a series of Security Council Resolutions dealing with the financial sponsors of terrorism - without consulting parliament. See full story.
April 2008 - CFI strikes another blow to EU "terrorist list" - legality of "reformed" procedures remains in doubt. The EU Court of First Instance has overturned decisions by the Council of the EU to include the Kurdish organisations PKK and Kongra Gel on the EU "terrorist list" (04.04.2008). In Case T-253/04 bought on behalf of Kongra Gel and 10 other individuals, the EU court ruled that the organisation was not in a position "to understand, clearly and unequivocally, the reasoning" that led the member states' governments to include them. It reached the same conclusion in Case T-229/02, bought by Osman Ocalan on behalf of Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK).
These judgments were widely excepted following the rulings in favour of Jose Maria Sison and Stichting al-Asqa (both based in Netherlands) in July 2007, and the precedent set in the People's Mojahedin Organisation of Iran (PMOI) ruling in December 2006. In this case the Court found that the EU's proscription regime had denied the PMOI the right to a fair hearing in which it could challenge its designation as "terrorist" in accordance with its fundamental right to a fair trial (see: analysis of PMOI judgment). This paved the way for other proscribed groups and individuals to challenge their inclusion in the list.
In response to the PMOI ruling, the EU "reformed" its procedures for listing and de-listing. Whereas prior to the PMOI judgment no mechanism existed for those proscribed to either receive an explanation for their inclusion or to challenge that explanation, the EU now provides affected parties with a "statement of reasons". In turn, those parties may then write back to the secret EU group responsible for the decision to contest the statement and request de-listing. The EU has maintained in the "terrorist list" those groups and individuals who have already successfully challenged their proscription at the EU Courts on the grounds that its "reforms" remedy the fair trial breaches that the Court has identified. This issue will not be resolved until the PMOI's new challenge to the EU's decision to maintain them in the list (case T-157/07) returns to the Court, which may take several years. In the meantime, the challenges by other proscribed organisations are mounting up - as are the compensation claims.
Ben Hayes of Statewatch comments:
"There isn't a lawyer in Europe who believes that the EU 'reform' of its proscription regime amounts to the fair hearing that EU law demands. On the contrary, the regime remains a recipe for arbitrary, unaccountable and politically-motivated decision making. By ignoring the increasingly clear message from the EU Courts, the member states are doing themselves a great disservice.
Instead of digging its heels in, the EU should introduce a meaningful appeals procedure for affected parties. To wait years for the EU court system or the Strasbourg Court to deliver a judgment that everyone can see coming would be an affront to the EU's stated commitment to human rights."
February 2008 - PMOI submits new case at ECJ (case T-257/07). The People's Mojahedin Organisation of Iran (PMOI) successfully challenged its designation as "terrorist" by the European Union in December 2006. In spite of the ruling by the European Court of First Instance, the EU has maintained the PMOI on its "terrorist list". The PMOI is already seeking ¬1 million in damages from the EU (see case T-157/07) - this latest case seeks annulment of the latest EU Council Decision to include them in the current terrorist list.
January 2008 - PACE demands review of UN and EU blacklisting procedures for terrorist suspects, which violate human rights (Council of Europe press release, 23.1.08)
January 2008 - Opinion in Al Barakaat appeal follows same reasoning as Kadi (Opinion, full-text, 23.1.08): Advocate-General Miguel Poiares Maduro's opinion on the Al Barakaat appeal reaches the same conclusions as the Kadi opinion, below - the Court of First Instance was wrong to dismiss the initial appeal on grounds of limited jurisdiction; Al Barakaat's rights to property and a fair trial/judicial review have been breached; the EC regulations implementing the UN decisions re Al Barakaat should be annulled.
January 2008 - EU: Advocate General delivers devastating opinion in Kadi UN challenge (ECJ press release, 13.1.08): Yassin Abdullah Kadi, a resident of Saudi Arabia, is accused of supporting terrorism by the the UN Terrorism Sanctions Committee and included on the UN "terrorist list", which is incorporated into EU law under EC Regulations. Advocate-General Miguel Poiares Maduro argues that the EU Court of First Instance was wrong to dismiss Kadi's appeal on the grounds that the EU Courts lack jurisdiction over political decisions taken by the EU. On the contrary, suggests the Advocate-General: because there is no mechanism for judicial review of the UN decisions, the EU must subject the sanctions regime to proper judicial review. Advocate-General Poiares Maduro concludes that the EC Regulations implementing the UN sanctions regime do infringe Mr. Kadi's right to property and a fair trial/judicial review and should therefore be annulled. He suggests that rather than referring the matter back to the Court of First Instance, the European Court of Justice should give final judgment on these questions. The Opinion will now be considered by the Court of Justice in advance of their ruling. See: full-text of Opinion.
December 2007 - Pakistan: Rashid Rauf escapes (see further "prisoner swap" story, below). Rauf is said to have escaped from Pakistani custody when two policemen escorting him from court in the capital, Islamabad, to a jail outside the nearby city of Rawalpindi stopped to allow him to pray in a roadside mosque. See: The mysterious disappearance of an alleged terror mastermind (Guardian, 28.1.07)
January 2007 - Danish court rules Fighters and lovers not guilty of terror funding (Guardian, 14.12.07): Seven Danes accused of supporting terrorism by selling T-shirts bearing the logos of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (Farc) and the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine have been found not guilty of the charges. See also: English translation of summary of judgment and "activists" story below. The case has now been appealed by the prosecution. The date of the new trial at the High Court (Landsret) has as yet not been set. Another case against spokesperson of Oproer (Rebellion), Patrick Mac Manus, both for the transfer of 100.000 DKr ($17,000) to PFLP and FARC and the appeal to more than 200 European organisations to challenge terrorist legislation, is set for 12-14 March and 10 April (Rebellion case). It may be postponed until the Fighters and Lovers case has reached a conclusion.
December 2007 - Pakistan launches fresh offensive in Baluchistan, Britain accused of Baluchi "prisoner swap": Baluchi activists report that on the 6 December the Pakistani army launched a new offensive in the Kahan and Dera Bugti Districts of Baluchistan. Hundreds of Baluchis are said to have been detained, scores killed, and homes and schools destroyed in air strikes from helicopter gunships and fighter planes. Civilians are fleeing to the mountains. Meanwhile, the British government is accused of arresting two Baluchi nationals living in London with the intention of "swapping" them for Rashid Rauf, a 26-year-old Briton held in a high security prison in Pakistan and accused of involvement in the alleged plot to blow-up transatlantic airliners in 2006. Faiz Baluch and Hyrbyair Marri were arrested in London following raids on their homes in the first week of December. They have been charged with inciting another person to commit an act of terrorism "wholly or partly outside the UK". See UK accused of 'prisoner swap' with Pakistan (Telegraph, 7.12.12) and Foreign Office accused of swap deal over terror suspects (Guardian, 11.12.07). For background see Never mind the Baluch? (June 2007).
December 2007 - Denmark: Seven activists facing prison for symbolic support of PLFP and FARC. On 13 December 2007 a Copenhagen court will announce its decision in the case of "Fighters and Lovers", an activist group that campaigned against the EU terrorist lists by attempting to raise funds for humanitarian projects of the PLFP (Palestine) and FARC (Columbia) by selling t-shirts baring the logo's of the two banned organisations. "F+L", which describes itself as "a private enterprise dedicated to the cause of freedom and hard-rocking street gear", is charged with "sponsoring terrorism", a crime under recent anti-terror laws that carries a maximum prison sentence of 10 years. For more information see www.fightersandlovers.org. See also Fashion items or dangerous terrorist images? T-shirt trial divides a nation (Guardian, 29.11.07) and Court to decide if 'T' in t-shirt stands for terror (Danish Ministry of Foreign Affairs, 21.9.07). For background, see Rebellion, Denmark.
November 2007 - On 30 November 2007 the UK Proscribed Organisations Appeal Commission (POAC) ruled that the Home Secretary had acted illegally in refusing to remove the People's Mojahedin Organisation of Iran (PMOI) from its proscribed list of 'terrorist' organisations. The case was brought by more than 30 members of Parliament and the House of Lords. The POAC ruling represents the first successful challenge to the proscription provisions in the Terrorism Act 2000; the government has said it intends to appeal. See POAC judgment, full-text and Government ordered to end 'perverse' terror listing of Iran opposition (Guardian, 1.12.07). See also Britain may lift ban on Iran's opposition (Telegraph, 27.9.07) detailing an "extraordinary request" by Government's solicitors to the Commission for a copy of the judgment a week in advance of its publication. The UK ruling follows a judgment by the EU Court in December 2006 that the PMOI's inclusion on the EU terrorist list was illegal insofar as it breached their fair trial rights, although the EU has subsequently refused to remove the PMOI from its list of banned organisations.
November 2007 - Procedures for blacklisting individuals suspected of terrorist links are unworthy of the UN Security Council and EU (Council of Europe, 12 November 2007, full-text of report, pdf) says PACE. The Legal Affairs Committee of the Council of Europe Parliamentary Assembly (PACE) has adopted a highly critical report by Dick Marty on the EU and UN 'terrorist lists', the Swiss senator famous for heading the CoE inquiry into 'unlawful rendition'. The report argues that the procedures are "unworthy" of the UN and EU, and must be urgently overhauled to make them fairer. See also earlier memorandum by Marty on UN Security Council black lists (March 2007, pdf).
October 2007 - In a case brought by the European Parliament, the European Court of Justice has struck down the European Commission's decision to grant anti-terrorism assistance to the Philippines government. See Judgment in Case C-403/05 (full-text, 23 October 2007). The ruling follows the EU Court of First Instance's decision in June to annul the EU Council Decision to place Jose Maria Sison, a Philippine exile and long term opponent of the Philippines government, on the EU list of 'terrorists' for the purposes of asset-freezing (see Sison judgment (full-text)).
October 2007 - Four new challenges against EU 'terrorist' lists lodged at Court of First Instance. In case T-348/07, Stichting Al-Aqsa are returning to the Court to seek their removal from the list. The CFI has already declared the Council's earlier decision to include them on the list unlawful but the Council of the EU is refusing to remove them from the list (see July 2007 judgment in Al-Asqa case). In case T-362/07 and case T-363/07, Nouriddin El Fatmi and Ahmed Hamdi are challenging their inclusion on the EU 'terrorist' list following their conviction for membership of the "Hofstad" group in the Netherlands. In case T-323/07, El Morabit Mohamed is challenging his inclusion on the EU 'terrorist' list on the same grounds, also arguing that since his conviction for membership of the "Hofstad" group in the Netherlands is under appeal, he has been denied the presumption of innocence and a fair trial by the EU.
October 2007 - The European Court of Justice has ruled in case C-117/06 - judgment (full-text) that it is illegal to sell property to people whose assets have been frozen under Community law. The case was brought by the sellers of a property who had agreed the sale in 2000 - before the buyer was included on the EU's 'terrorist' list for the purposes of asset-freezing.
July 2007 - The EU Court of First Instance has today (11.7.07) ruled the freezing of the assets of Jose Maria Sison and Stichting al-Asqa (both based in Netherlands) unlawful. See: The Court of First Instance annuls the Council Decisions ordering Jose Maria Sison and Stichting Al-Asqa funds to be frozen in the fight against terrorism (Press release). Court judgments, full-text: Sison (pdf) and Al-Asqa (pdf). The Court followed the reasoning in the December 2006 ruling on the PMOI. While the rulings strike another crucial blow to the credibility of the proscription regime, the EU has recently reviewed its procedures and now submits that recent "reforms" in respect to notification and appeals mean that it has now remedied the due process problems identified by the Court. The EU may also, on these grounds, refuse to remove the two from its terrorist list, as it has with the PMOI.
June 2007 - The public hearing for the delivery of judgment by the European Court of First Instance on the terrorist blacklisting of Jose Maria Sison (Case T-47/03) has been scheduled for 11 July at 9:15 a.m. See also "statement of reasons" for the blacklisting provided by the EU Council on 23 April 2007 published on Defend Committee website, which cites decisions by Dutch ministers and the US government as grounds for the criminalisation of Prof. Sison and the freezing of his assets.
June 2007 - UK: Never mind the Baluch? Article by Ben Hayes on the UK government's blacklisting of the Baluchistan Liberation Army and the situation in Baluchistan.
June 2007 - PMOI submits new case at ECJ (case T-157/07).
See earlier report: Iran mujahidin to challenge EU terror list (EUobserver.com, 12.5.07, archived by ncr-iran.org). Despite the ruling by the European Court of First Instance that the EU acted unlawfully in freezing the PMOI's assets, the organisation remains on the EU "terrorist list". The PMOI is now going back to court to seek removal from the list and ¬1 million in damages. The matter has also been raised in the Danish parliament.
June 2007 - EU's secretive counter-terror group to face scrutiny (EUobserver.com, 13.6.07): article suggesting that an "EU clearing house" through which counter terrorism information is exchanged by national intelligence services is responsible for blacklisting decisions and should be held accountable.
June 2007 - Terrorism: the chosen tool of the weak against the mighty (Le Monde Diplomatique) "Does 'global war on terror' mask a new imperialism?" asks Eric Rouleau.
May 2007 - EU releases "statement of reasons" for blacklisting of PMOI (EU Council doc. 5418/2/07, 11 May 2007): The EU has declassified the "statement of reasons" it has sent to the People's Mujahadeen Organisation of Iran to justify its inclusion on the "terrorist list". The statement cites terrorist attacks by the PMOI in the 1990s, 2000 and 2001 and the decision of the UK government to ban the PMOI in March 2001 as grounds for the EU ban. The UK's decision was called into question by the CFIs ruling in December 2006 (see analysis of PMOI ruling).
May 2007 - EU cites secret evidence against Iran group (EUobserver.com, 31.5.07): "The EU claims it has secret evidence that justifies keeping Iran opposition group PMOI on its terrorist register but cannot reveal the content for security reasons, in a situation stoking anger among some MEPs...."
May 2007 - Terrorist: Flag of Convenience (Socialist Lawyer, April 2007). Article by Bill Bowring arguing that the response of international organisations to the attacks on the United States now poses a shockingly serious threat to some fundamental human rights, especially procedural guarantees.
May 2007 - Iran mujahidin to challenge EU terror list (EUobserver.com, 12.5.07, archived by ncr-iran.org). Despite the ruling by the European Court of First Instance that the EU acted unlawfully in freezing the PMOI's assets, the organisation remains on the EU "terrorist list". The PMOI is now going back to court to seek removal from the list and ¬1 million in damages. The matter has also been raised in the Danish parliament.
May 2007 - UK: Council of Europe: Press release: Dick Marty strongly deplores flagrant injustice of UN Security Council blacklisting people suspected of terrorist links without evidence of wrong-doing (pdf) Dick Marty: Memorandum full-text: UN Security Council black lists (pdf)
May 2007 - UK: Public meeting: "Terrorism" lists versus the rights to self-determination and democracy: Wednesday 2 May, 6.30pm, Committee Room 3, House of Lords, Westminster SW1, Hosted by Lord Rea.
April 2007 - UN Human Rights Council issues damning report on terrorist lists and sanctions (A/HRC/4/88
9.3.07, pdf). The report concludes:
With regard to the United Nations sanctions regime, further improvements are needed to ensure a listing process which is transparent, based on clear criteria, and with an appropriate, explicit, and uniformly applied standard of evidence, as well as an effective, accessible and independent mechanism of review for individuals and concerned States. Fair and clear procedures must include the right of an individual to be informed of the measures taken and to know the case against him or her; the right of such a person to be heard within a reasonable time by the relevant decision-making body; the right to effective review by a competent, independent review mechanism; the right of such a person to representation with respect to all proceedings; and the right of such a person to an effective remedy.
March 2007 - European Court of Justice rejects Basque appeal against inclusion on EU terrorist list (Judgment in case C-354/04 P, 27.2.07, pdf). The European Court of Justice has rejected an appeal by Gestoras Pro Amnistía and two associated individuals against their inclusion on the EU terrorist list.
February 2007 - European Court of Justice rejects Sison appeal against denial of access to EU documents (Judgment in case C-266/05 P, 1.2.07, pdf). The European Court of Justice has rejected Professor Jose Maria Sison's appeal against the EU Council's decision to refuse access to the documents relating to his inclusion on the terrorist list. The case concerned the interpretation of the Regulation 1049/2001/EC on public access to EU documents - not the substantive issue of whether Sison should be included in the EU's terrorist list. See also statement by International DEFEND Committee: www.defendsison.be.
January 2007 - European Court of Justice overturns decision to deny appeal by PKK (Judgment in case C-229/05 P, 18.1.07, pdf). The European Court of Justice (ECJ) has ruled that the Court of First Instance (CFI) was wrong to declare inadmissible a case challenging the inclusion of the PKK (Kurdistan Workers Party) in the EU's "terrorist" list. The case was brought by Osman Ocalan, brother of imprisoned PKK leader Abdullah, on the grounds that the PKK had declared permanent ceasefire in April 2002 and was effectively disbanded. In 2005, the CFI decided that "it is not for the Court, when examining the admissibility of the action, to rule on the reality of the PKKs existence". However, it then found that because PKK had disbanded, Mr Ocalan could not be its lawful representative. While this paradox was not lost on the Court, it declared the case inadmissible.
The UK government and European Commission both intervened in the case, arguing that the CFI ruling should stand, but, following the advice of the Advocate General (below), the ECJ found that the CFI had "distorted" the evidence and should have recognised Mr Ocalan's power of attorney. The case will now return to the CFI for a decision on the substantive appeal against the PKK's inclusion in the terrorist list. Last month the CFI ruled that the PMOI's right to a fair hearing had been breached by the Council's failure to provide the organisation with any information concerning its decision to add them to the "terrorist" list (see analysis of PMOI ruling).
The appeal in the PKK case was brought jointly by Mr Ocalan and Serif Vanly, on behalf of the Kurdistan National Congress (KNK), which is not included in the EU terrorist list (only KADEK and KONGRA-GEL are listed as aliases of the PKK). The KNK challenged the proscription of the PKK on the grounds that it was directly affected by the ban but the ECJ upheld the CFI's decision to declare its appeal inadmissible.
January 2007 - U.S. to let people apply to get off no-fly lists (Reuters India, 18.1.07, link)
January 2007 - UN Sanctions: Listing/De-listing and Due Process (securitycouncilreport.org, link). Article on changes in proscription procedures of the UN Security Council (the UN has proscribed 487 groups and individuals who are alleged supporters or associates of the Taliban or al-Qaeda). A "statement of the case" will be produced for all new listings but groups and individuals will not be informed or be able to challenge the contents of the statement. As to appeals against proscription and the Security Council has established a "focal point" and new de-listing procedures. However, the changes are little more than "window-dressing" since affected parties will still be denied access to the procedure and states will retain maximum discretion over who should be included or removed from the list.
See: Security Council Resolution 1730 on de-listing procedures (19 December 2006)
Amended guidelines for the Taliban Sanctions Committee (29 November 2006)
January 2007 - EU backing down on terror list secrecy (EUobserver.com, 16.1.07, link). Report on the implications of the PMOI ruling on the issuing of a "statement of reasons" to groups and individuals on the list. See also Statewatch analysis of PMOI ruling.
January 2007 - US Supreme Court refuses case challenging PMOIs designation as terrorists (New York Times, 9.1.07, link)
December 2006 - EU terrorist list updated (EU Official Journal). On 21 December 2006 the EU added two groups and nine individuals to its list of terrorist entities. The nine are named as members of the Netherlands-based "Hofstadgroep". The organisation itself is also proscribed. Four of the named individuals have been convicted in Holland, including Mohammed Bouyeri, the man who killed film director Theo van Gogh, although five were acquitted due to a lack of evidence. The other group added to the EU list is the TAK - Teyrbazen Azadiya Kurdistan, a.k.a. Kurdistan Freedom Falcons, Kurdistan Freedom Hawks.
The EU "terrorist" list now contains a total of 50 groups and 54 individuals (see previous list).
December 2006 - Successful challenge to EU terrorist list by PMOI (Statewatch report). In a judgment that has far-reaching implications the EU Court of First Instance has annulled the EU Council's decision to include the PMOI on its terrorist list. The Court found that the PMOI was denied a fair hearing in which it could challenge the decision. The judgment means that the EU will now have to provide a "statement of reasons" to groups and individuals it designates as terrorist.
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