Europe rights chief criticizes anti-terror blacklists

[JURIST] Council of Europe Commissioner for Human Rights Thomas Hammarberg [official profile; JURIST news archive] said Monday that human rights standards have been undermined by the "war on terror." Hammarberg focused on blacklists created by UN Security Council Resolution 1267 (1999) [text, PDF], the EU common position 2001/931 [text, PDF], EU Regulation 2580/2001 [text, PDF], and revisions made to EU Regulation 2580 [text, PDF]. Under these resolutions, persons suspected of involvement with terrorism can have their financial assets seized without being afforded a trial. They can submit a request for removal from the list to the UN Sanction Committee but only the country of which they are a citizen can assert any formal rights relating to the seizure. Hammarberg wrote in a column [text] posted on the COE website:

The 'war on terror' has gravely undermined previously agreed human rights standards. The counter-terrorism measures taken since 9/11 must now be thoroughly review and changed, not only in the United States and other affected countries, but also in inter-governmental organisations [sic]. Innocent victims must have their names cleared and receive compensation and steps must be taken to prevent similar injustices in the future. Those suspected of association with terrorism must not find themselves on so-called 'black-lists' without any prospect of having their case heard or reviewed by an independent body.
Placements on the UN and the EU blacklists have been regularly voided by the courts. In 2006, the European Court of First Instance [official website] annulled [judgment text; JURIST report] a decision by the Council of the European Union [official website] that froze the assets of the People's Mojahedin Organization of Iran (PMOI) [advocacy website]. In 2007, the same court overturned [JURIST report] a decision to freeze the assets of the chairman of the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) Jose Maria Sison and the Hamas-affiliated al-Aqsa Foundation. In January, the Council of Europe's Parliamentary Assembly (PACE) [official website] called the blacklists "completely arbitrary" [JURIST report]. In October, UN Special rapporteur on the promotion and protection of human rights Martin Scheinin urged an overhaul of the blacklisting system [JURIST report].


 

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