December 15, 2017

Terror label against Mojahedin of Iran, “disastrous” effect of the EU blacklisting

Press Association
Wednesday, 23 January 2008
By Geoff Meade, PA Europe editor

Brussels – United Nations and European Union blacklists of terrorist suspects were condemned this afternoon as a violation of human rights and a threat to the credibility of the international fight against terrorism.

The damning verdict from Europe’s human rights watchdog, the Council of Europe, was coupled with demands for a review of UN and EU blacklisting procedures.

The Council’s Parliamentary Assembly, meeting in Strasbourg, backed a report attacking the methods used by the UN Security Council and the EU to blacklist individuals and groups suspected of having terrorist connections abuse basic rights and are “completely arbitrary”.

The report’s author, Swiss MP Dick Marty declared: “Injustice is terrorism’s best ally – and we must fight it too.”

His report, endorsed by MPs from the Council’s 46 member countries, including all 27 EU member states:
“Let us say it clearly: the current blacklisting practice is scandalous and blemishes the honour of the institutions making use of it in such a way. Blacklisting without respecting the most elementary rights puts into the question the credibility of the fight against terrorism and thus reduces its effectiveness.”

Mr Marty’s report says 370 people world-wide currently have their assets frozen and their international travel blocked because the UN has put them on a blacklist. And about 60 groups and bodies are on another blacklist kept by the EU.

Grounds for sanctions against them all amount to “mere suspicion” says the report, describing the measures as “deplorable and a violation of human rights and fundamental freedoms”.

It goes on: “”Even the members of the committee which decides on blacklisting are not given all the reasons for blacklisting particular persons or groups.

“Usually, those persons or groups are not told that blacklisting has been requested, given a hearing or even, in some cases, informed of the decision – until they try to cross a frontier or use a bank account. There is no provision for independent review of these decisions”.

Such procedures are “unworthy” of international institutions such as the UN and EU and undermines the legitimacy of using “targeted sanctions” against terrorists, says the report.

And it warns that Council of Europe member states which are required to enforce such sanctions “may well violate their obligations under the European Convention on Human Rights”

Today’s overwhelming vote backing the report includes a demand that the UN and EU review their blacklist procedures “to preserve the credibility of the international fight against terrorism”.

International bodies such as the UN and EU, with their “lofty goals”, ought to set an example by respecting minimum standards and legal certainty under the rule of law, said the report.

Therefore blacklisted groups or individuals should have the right:
– “to be notified and adequately informed of the charges held against oneself, and of the decision taken;
– “to enjoy the fundamental right to be heard and to be able to adequately defend oneself against these charges;
– “to be able to have the decision affecting one’s rights speedily reviewed by an independent, impartial body with a view to modifying or annulling it.”

The report was welcomed this afternoon by the main Iranian opposition group, the People’s Mojahedin Organisations of Iran (PMOI) which is still on the EU’s blacklist despite a court ruling ordering the UK government – which put the PMOI on the list in the first place – to remove it.

Dick Marty’s report says cases such as the PMOI controversy are an example of the “disastrous” effects of the blacklists.

The PMOI successfully challenged its place on the blacklist in the EU’s highest court, and also won a case last November before the UK’s independent judicial authority, the Proscribed Organisations Appeal Commission, which described the British Government’s blacklisting of the PMOI as unlawful.

POAC chairman Sir Harry Ognall, a former judge, said the Government’s decision to blacklist the PMOI was “perverse”.

It was, says Mr Marty’s report, a “sensational” result and “a real slap in the face” for the UK Government.

And yet the PMOI is still on the blacklist, points out the report – just one of a number of similar cases around Europe which “illustrate the drastic consequences which the flawed procedures still current in the UN Security Council and the EU can have for innocent parties, who face almost insurmountable difficulties in securing the most basic of their rights.”

The report’s resolution calling for minimum procedural standards of fundamental rights to be applied to blacklisting methods was approved by 101-3. UK delegates on the Council of Europe’s Parliamentary Assembly who approved the resolution included Labour MPs Rudi Vis, Lord Tomlinson, Edward O’Hara and Bill Etherington and Conservative Humfrey Malins.

Another Labour MP, John Austin, abstained, and fellow Labour MP Denis McShane, voted against,, alongside two Romanian socialist MP.