EU court removes Turkey's Kurdish PKK
party from terror list
was wrong to include PKK on terror list-court, The
PKK continues to be on the blacklist list despite
EU court removes Turkey's Kurdish PKK party from
BRUSSELS, Belgium, — A European Union court
on Thursday overturned a decision to place the
Kurdish rebel group PKK and its political wing on
the European Union's terror list.
The Luxembourg-based Court of First Instance said
that decisions made by EU governments in 2002 and
2004 to blacklist the two groups and freeze their
assets were illegal under EU law.
It is the latest of several court rulings
overturning similar EU decisions, on the ground that
the groups added to the terror list were not
properly informed of the decision to blacklist them
or given a right to appeal the decision.
It also once again underlines the complexity of the
procedure by which EU countries and courts decide
who belongs on the terror list, and what groups can
do to get off it.
The EU court said the autonomy-seeking PKK, or
Kurdistan Workers Party,www.ekurd.net
and its political wing,
known as KONGRA-GEL, were not in positions "to
understand, clearly and unequivocally, the
reasoning" that led EU governments to add them to
the terror list.
The EU's 27 national governments said, however, they
had no intention of removing the PKK or any other
groups from the list, sticking to previously stated
justifications that it had already implemented "a
clearer and more transparent procedure" by which it
adds people or groups to its blacklist.
The EU nations are obliged to implement the EU court
rulings. However, recent changes made by the EU are
likely to lead to months, if not years, of complex
legal wrangling between the governments, the EU
courts and those appealing to get their names off
the list before the situation is resolved.
"Today's ruling does not affect the validity of this
list," the EU said in a statement, concluding that
its interpretation of the ruling does not include
the removal of the PKK or others from its list.
The PKK was added to the list in 2002, after the
Sept. 11, 2001, attacks in the United States. Its
political wing was added in 2004. The United States
and Turkey also list the PKK as a terrorist
organization. Fighting between the guerrillas and
Turkish troops has claimed more than 37,000 lives
since 1984. A large Turkey's Kurdish community
openly sympathise with the Kurdish PKK rebels.
The PKK demanded Turkey's recognition of the Kurds'
identity in its constitution and of their language
as a native language along with Turkish in the
country's Kurdish areas, the party also demanded
an end to ethnic discrimination in Turkish laws and
constitution against Kurds, ranting them full
The Kurdish group won an appeal last year giving it
a right to a hearing and a new case to get it
removed from the EU list.
The European Union will continue to view the Kurdish
Workers' Party (PKK) as a terrorist organisation
despite a court ruling saying the PKK should be
removed from the blacklist. The EU Council in
Brussels stressed the listing would continue and PKK
assets would remain frozen despite the European
Court of First Instance ruling in Luxembourg earlier
in the day. The council would give the group its
reasoning for doing so, a spokesman said.
An Iranian opposition group, the People's Mujahedeen
of Iran, won a 2006 EU court case annulling its
listing by the EU. That case set a legal precedent
and forced the EU to revamp the way it decides which
groups and people to add to its terror list.
The EU court also recently overturned a decision to
freeze the assets of an exiled Philippine rebel
leader and the Netherlands-based Al-Aqsa foundation
because they were not informed why their assets were
frozen _ a breach of EU law.
Despite their court victories none of the groups
that appealed have so far been removed from the list
or have had their assets unfrozen.
Lawyers representing the Mujahedeen group filed a
new case at the EU court last month aimed at forcing
EU governments to remove it from the list, arguing
that changes to the way EU governments operate the
list were still wrong.
EU legal experts have said, however, that the
court's 2006 ruling focused on procedural problems
and did not imply that a group needed to be removed
from the list.
The experts claim the EU has complied with the
judgment by supplying documents explaining its
decision and allowing people and groups on the list
to present counter arguments.
Europe's human rights watchdog, the Council of
Europe, has said the EU's anti-terror rules violate
EU nations decided in April 2007 to inform groups
and individuals when they are placed on the EU
terror list. Those listed will now be able to ask
why they were put on the list and why their assets
are frozen. But there are still no procedures for an
independent review and for compensation for possible
human rights breaches.
The EU's list, last updated in December, includes 54
persons and 48 groups and entities. The next review
of the list is planned for June.
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