Council of Europe bashes EU and UN terror blacklisting practice

24.01.08 @ 09:21

  1. By Elitsa Vucheva

The parliamentarian assembly of the Council of Europe on Wednesday (23 January) backed a report saying the use of terrorist black-lists by the UN and the EU violate fundamental rights.

  • "People remain on these lists for years without knowing why, and their lives are ruined", says Dick Marty (Photo: Sandro Weltin, Council of Europe)

Besides breaching human rights, the procedures used by both the UN Security Council and the EU to put individuals or groups suspected of having links with terrorism on a black-list are "completely arbitrary", the Council of Europe lawmakers said in a statement.

"Even the members of the committee which decides on blacklisting are not given all the reasons for blacklisting particular persons or groups", the assembly stated.

"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," it added.

According to the report, around 370 people and 130 groups or organisations are currently on the UN's black-list, while the EU lists 60 people or groups – including the radical Palestinian group Hamas and the Basque separatists ETA.

Among other things, being on such a list means having one's assets frozen, and being banned from travelling outside one's country.

It is the governments who choose who is put on the black-lists, but they currently do it disrespecting the right to a fair trial, according to the author of the report, Dick Marty.

The former Swiss state prosecutor called for those that are about to be blacklisted to be notified and then compensated in cases where no evidence is found against them – as has happened.

However, "it is almost impossible" to be withdrawn from such a list, Mr Marty said, citing the case of The People's Mujahedin of Iran (PMOI) as an example.

The PMOI had been classified as a terrorist organisation but protested and won its case at the European Court of Justice – however, it is today still on the EU's black-list.

"People remain on these lists for years without knowing why, and their lives are ruined", Mr Marty was quoted as saying by German news agency DPA.

The Council of Europe - an institution gathering 47 member states and aiming to protect human rights and promote democratic principles - concluded that "this kind of procedure is unworthy of international institutions like the UN and EU".

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