EU terror list criticised by human rights watchdog
By Honor Mahony
The European Union's anti-terror list violates basic human rights, a Swiss investigator working for the human rights body the Council of Europe has said.
"The present system of blacklists flouts the fundamental principles which are the basis of human rights," notes the report by Dick Marty, according to Reuters.
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To be formally presented today (12 November), the report condemns the terror black lists of both the EU and the United Nations claiming that suspects on the list are not allowed the right of reply and also have difficulty clearing their names once on the list.
This is not the first bad publicity for the EU list, which contains around 60 entries of groups and individuals and is reviewed around twice a year by member state secret service representatives.
In December, an EU court questioned the 2002 decision to place the People's Mujahadeen Organization of Iran (PMOI), a Paris-based Iranian opposition group, on the terror register and freeze its assets.
Although there have been some procedural changes to how the list is run since the ruling - all groups on the list now sent statements of reasoning - PMOI has remained on the list.
In July, meanwhile, an EU court overturned a decision by member states to freeze the assets of Philippine rebel leader Jose Maria Sison and the Al-Aqsa foundation, based in the Netherlands.
The Luxembourg-based court of first instance found that EU governments had breached the rights of both parties - who are both on the EU terror list - by not telling them why their assets had been frozen.
It also found that they had not been given sufficient rights of defence or to effective judicial protection.
The EU's anti-terror list was set up in the aftermath of the September 2001 terrorist attacks in New York and Washington and features Islamic group Hamas as well as the Kurdish PKK group, the Tamil Tigers, ETA and Colombian rebels FARC.
Referring to both the EU and the UN - which has over 360 indiviuals on its list - Mr Marty said that both organizations must respect "minimal norms of procedure and juridical safeguards."
"Despite recent procedural improvements it remains almost impossible, in practice, to be removed from the blacklist - a situation that is illegal and unacceptable," Mr Marty wrote in specific reference to the PMOI case.
Mr Marty last caused a stir when he accused EU member states of knowing about US rendition acts - the clandestine transportation of foreign prisoners - often using European airspace.