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EU court rules asset freezes do not violate rights of terror suspects

[JURIST] The fundamental rights of two terror suspects were not violated when EU member states froze their assets, the European Court of First Instance [official website] ruled [press release, PDF] Wednesday. Ireland and the UK froze the bank accounts of a Tunisian and Libyan national, respectively, after European Council Regulation 881/2002 [PDF text], which implemented several UN Security Council resolutions, authorized member states to freeze the assets of persons suspected of affiliation with al-Qaeda, Osama bin Laden, or the Taliban. The two suspects, Chafiq Ayadi from Tunisia and Libyan Faraj Hassan, petitioned the Court of First Instance to annul the regulation on the basis that the asset freezes offended their fundamental human rights. In separate judgments in both the Ayadi and Hassan [case materials] cases, the court held that under the circumstances, the regulation does not prevent the individuals concerned from leading a satisfactory personal, family, and social life, as the petitioners could still earn money.

The court also stressed that petitioners may request judicial review by national courts, rather than EU courts, when the national judiciary refuses to bring their petitions before the UN committee that determines sanctions against terror suspects. The Court of First Instance held last year that the European Union can freeze the assets of suspected terrorists under its treaty powers [JURIST report]. Reuters has more.

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