EU nations agree to notify groups on terror list

EU nations agree to notify groups, individuals why they are on terror list

LUXEMBOURG: European Union nations decided Monday they will inform groups and individuals when they are placed on the EU terror list.

The move came in the wake of last year’s EU high court ruling which ordered the 27-nation bloc to give rights to all parties on the list.

Those listed will now be able to request the reasons why they are on the list and why their assets are frozen, officials said on condition of anonymity due to the sensitivity of the issue.

Monday’s changes did not scrap any names or groups from the list, officials said. The list includes 60 groups and individuals, with people like Osama bin Laden, Hamas and al-Qaida. The decision was taken without debate during a meeting of EU foreign ministers talks here.

A panel of EU experts reviews the list every six months behind closed doors, but its decision in 2002 to freeze all European assets of an exiled Iranian resistance movement led to a court case at the EU’s Court of Justice filed by the group.

The EU court annulled the decision to freeze the assets of The People’s Mujahadeen of Iran, also known by the acronyms PMOI and MEK, and ordered the EU to give all parties on the list a fair hearing.

It was the first time an appeal to the EU’s terror list was successful at the EU court.

EU legal experts have argued that the court’s ruling did not imply it had to remove the group from its list, an interpretation the PMOI has strongly opposed.

The group said in a statement Monday that the changes in the EU’s procedures "are simply cosmetic changes to circumvent the court ruling." The U.S. also lists the group as a terrorist organization.

The EU governments had asked the group to submit a legal reply to the ruling to state why it should not be on the list.

The mujahedeen were originally set up in the mid-1960s to oppose the U.S.-backed dictatorship of the late Shah Mohammad Reza Pahlavi.

At the time, a Marxist splinter group within the PMOI carried out several attacks on Iranian security forces in which six U.S. advisers died. This was cited by the U.S. State Department as justification for placing the mujahedeen on its terror list in the mid-1990s.

After the 1979 Islamic revolution toppled the shah, the group was exiled to Iraq, from where they carried out cross-border raids during the 1980-1988 war between the two countries. Several thousand of its members were disarmed by U.S. forces after Saddam’s overthrow in 2003 and restricted to an army camp near Baghdad.

The list, set up after the terror attacks on Sept. 11, 2001, is done in secret by a special committee of security representatives from each member state.

 

The Associated Press    April 23, 2007

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