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A row that is likely to continue

In its judgment made on 4 December, the European Court of First Instance ruled that the Council of Ministers had infringed the legal rights of the MKO when it updated the blacklist on 15 July 2008 without explaining its inclusion. The second clause of the Council Decision (2008/583/EC), however, explicitly states that it has provided for the groups and entities statements of reasons for their proscription:

2.      The Council has provided all the persons, groups and entities for which it was practically possible with statements of reasons explaining why they were listed in Decision 2007/868/EC. Concerning one group and three persons the amended statements of reasons has been provided to them, if possible, in April 2008.

Following the MKO’s application to contest the Council’s decision, the court ruled that it “Annuls Council Decision 2008/583/EC of 15 July 2008 implementing Article 2(3) of Regulation No 2580/2001 on specific restrictive measures directed against certain persons and entities with a view to combating terrorism and repealing Decision 2007/868/EC, in so far as it concerns the People’s Mojahedin Organization of Iran”. Of the restrictive measures was freezing the assets and funds of the listed groups.

The court in its 47 paragraph judgment says that “the Court finds that the continued freezing of the applicant’s funds by the contested decision was the result of a procedure during which the applicant’s rights of the defence were not respected” and consequently annuls the decision concerning MKO’s assets-freezing. Then, what it has to do with the removal of the organization from the terrorist list?

Since the Council applied for interpretation of the Court judgment of the Court of First Instance on 4 December 2008, the court issued a latest order in which the application for interpretation was dismissed as inadmissible. commenting on the court order released on 17 December 2008, MKO states that “the Court of First Instance of the European Communities (CFI), in its fourth ruling over the past two years, rejected a request by the EU Council and France to delay implementation of the December 4 court ruling on the People’s Mojahedin Organization of Iran (PMOI ) until the deadline to submit an appeal against the ruling has ended. It described their demand as ’clearly unacceptable’ and ordered the Council to pay all legal costs incurred by the PMOI. Thus, the Court put an end to unlawful delays and excuses by the Council, leaving it with no alternative but to comply with the court ruling and acknowledge that the PMOI is no longer on the terrorist list”.

But in none of these orders the court has ruled and acknowledged that MKO “is no longer on the terrorist list”. Still, since 4 December, member states have been working on the assumption that the judgment is in suspension and MKO’s name remains on the blacklist after it was updated on 16 December. The court’s decision not to provide further clarification on the nature of its decision means that the row between the MKO and the EU member states is likely to continue.

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