19th May 2022

EU wins first test of 'terrorist cases'

Member states must freeze the funds of all individuals named on UN lists of suspected terrorists without judicial review, according to a verdict from the European court of first instance in Luxembourg on Wednesday (21 September).

It is the first of the so-called "terrorist cases" to be tested, and the Court in Luxembourg ruled in favour of the EU. The complaints of the plaintiff, Ahmed Yusuf Ali, were rejected.

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Ahmed Yusuf Ali's funds were blocked with immediate effect in November 2001, after his name had appeared on a list of persons suspected to be linked to terrorists.

Since 1999, the UN Security Council has adopted numerous Resolutions regarding organisations with suspected links to the Taliban, Al-Qaeda and Osama bin Laden.

These resolutions demand all Member States of the UN to freeze the funds of the people named in a list established by a Sanctions Committee of the Security Council.

The list was established by the UN Security Council and was directly transferred into EU law by the bloc's member states.

Mr Yusuf Ali, a Swedish former worker in a Barakaat International Foundation office, operated a money transfer facility used by Somalis world-wide, and was later suspected of sponsoring terrorist groups with the money.

His funds - for example his bank savings - were then frozen by Swedish authorities.

Mr Yusuf Ali has claimed that the sanctions are in breach of the Rome treaty, which states that EU law cannot lead to disciplinary actions against single individuals,

In Wednesday's verdict the court of first instance stated that European Community law is entitled to order the freezing of personal assets to fight international terrorism, and that this issue falls outside the scope of judicial review.

Yusuf Ali's lawyers also say that the fact that Yusuf Ali has not had a chance to prove his innocence in a court room is in breach of the European Charter of Human Rights. The court disagrees.

Critics have claimed that the sanctions are in breach of human rights, notably the right to dispose of possessions, the right to defence and the right to an effective judicial remedy.

Ahmed Yusuf Ali's defence lawyer, Thomas Olsson, told Swedish wire agency TT after the ruling on Wednesday morning that "they [the EU] have imposed a system that denies people their legal rights. It is a pitiable verdict, and Ahmed Yusuf is a loser. But the biggest loser is the EU itself.

"It is completely unacceptable. We have not yet read the verdict or the motivation, but the result raises questions about the EU's position as regards the rule of law".

Ahmed Yusuf Ali will appeal the case to the European Court of Justice.

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