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UN rights expert urges overhaul of terrorism sanctions system

[JURIST] UN Special Rapporteur on the promotion and protection of human rights Martin Scheinin [official site; JURIST news archive] Wednesday urged the UN to restructure or eliminate the existing terrorist "blacklisting" system [press release; recorded video]. Currently, the Security Council's Al-Qaida and Taliban Sanctions Committee [official site] maintains a list [text] of people and entities associated with the Taliban, al Qaeda and Osama bin Laden, and may act to freeze their assets, restrict their travel and prevent arms purchases by them or on their behalf. On the occasion of his annual report to the UN General Assembly Third Committee, Scheinin suggested that the Security Council be more open with information regarding the reasons for its proposed sanctions and favored the introduction of an independent review authority through which those listed could challenge their status. Failing that, Scheinin proposed abolishing the committee altogether, noting that it was created "as a kind of emergency measure when there was no other framework in place". Without the committee, the UN would assist with identifying people and organizations to be listed, but would rely on member states to execute the sanctions. Scheinin's report came amid judicial challenges to and due process concerns [HRW report] about the existing sanctions regime. Scheinin expressed concern that a "wave of litigation" would risk the "whole credibility of the UN sanctions regime". AP has more.

Other groups and individuals have successfully challenged similar national international lists in the EU courts. Earlier this year, some European Parliament members criticized the EU watch list [JURIST report] as unfair and opaque, saying that the process for adding names to the list should be changed. In July 2007, the Court of First Instance overturned [JURIST report] an EU decision freezing the assets of the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) chairman and the Hamas-affiliated al-Aqsa Foundation, finding that the EC did not give the plaintiffs an opportunity to challenge the legal basis for their inclusion on a terrorist watch list. In December 2006, the same court similarly annulled an asset freeze [JURIST report] against the People's Mojahedin Organization of Iran. That judgment prompted the European Council to revise the procedures [JURIST report] used in establishing and maintaining the EU's terror list.

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