The Euro­pean Court has final­ly ren­dered its deci­sions con­cern­ing the recours­es against the list­ing of the PKK among so-called inter­na­tion­al ter­ror­ist organizations.

The Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) VS  the European Council

The Kur­dis­tan Work­ers Par­ty has been list­ed since 2002 among the ter­ror­ist orga­ni­za­tions in the Euro­pean Union. Sev­er­al appeals were lodged by its rep­re­sen­ta­tives over the years, request­ing its removal from this list. The last such appeal was on April 16 2017. On Novem­ber 15 2018, the Tri­bunal of the Euro­pean Union ren­dered a deci­sion in favor of the orga­ni­za­tion, deem­ing its re-list­ing at six month inter­vals until the end of 2017 unjus­ti­fied. The main motive for this deci­sion is the insuf­fi­cien­cy of the proof pro­vid­ed con­cern­ing the orga­ni­za­tion’s ter­ror­ist character.

A listing among terrorist organizations contested for decades

Fol­low­ing the Sep­tem­ber 11 2001 attacks, the Unit­ed Nations Secu­ri­ty Coun­cil adopt­ed res­o­lu­tion 1373,  aimed at fight­ing against ter­ror­ism. The Euro­pean Union took sev­er­al mea­sures to rein­force this posi­tion, notably in a doc­u­ment, arti­cle 2 of which makes pro­vi­sions for the freez­ing of funds and oth­er assets  of indi­vid­u­als or groups list­ed as ter­ror­ist organizations.

Placed on the list of ter­ror­ist orga­ni­za­tions since May 2nd2002, the PKK’s funds are cur­rent­ly frozen every­where in Europe. The list­ing has been renewed reg­u­lar­ly by the Euro­pean gov­ern­ments and a num­ber of appeals  launched to have it rescind­ed.  The last appeal was on April 16 2017 and invoked sev­en points of law in sup­port of the removal of the orga­ni­za­tion from the list.  This Thurs­day Novem­ber 15, 7 months after the hear­ing,  the Euro­pean Union declared there were not suf­fi­cient ele­ments jus­ti­fy­ing the pres­ence of the PKK on the list of ter­ror­ist orga­ni­za­tions until 2017, a deci­sion that should set the prece­dent for the fol­low­ing year and dis­suade mem­ber States when renew­ing the list.

A three-part decision founded on the insufficiency of convincing elements

 In reach­ing its deci­sion, the Court estab­lished that any cor­rob­o­rat­ing ele­ment pre­sent­ed to the Court must demon­srate the exis­tence of a causal link estab­lish­ing that the PKK rep­re­sent­ed a “per­ma­nent risk”. The deci­sion to main­tain the PKK on the list of ter­ror­ist orga­ni­za­tions was based  on an order of the Unit­ed King­dom’s Min­istry of the Inte­ri­or, ele­ments pre­sent­ed by the Unit­ed States and French judi­cia­ry decisions.

All the cor­rob­o­rat­ing ele­ments pro­vid­ed by these insti­tu­tions dealt with occur­rences between 1990 and the ear­ly years of the fol­low­ing decade. As a con­se­quence, the proof of a per­sis­tent ter­ror­ist threat could not be established.

Sec­ond­ly, the Tri­bunal exam­ined the admis­si­bil­i­ty  of the proofs sub­mit­ted. Any proof pro­vid­ed by a third par­ty and used to clas­si­fy a per­son or an orga­ni­za­tion as ter­ror­ist must be exam­ined scrupu­lous­ly. The Court con­sid­ered that the proofs sub­mit­ted were nei­ther per­ti­nent nor sufficient.

Third­ly, the Tri­bunal based its deci­sion on arti­cle 296 of the Treaty on the Func­tion­ing of the Euro­pean Union.  This arti­cle requires  that, in all cir­cum­stances, any insti­tu­tion express­ing restric­tive mea­sures against an orga­ni­za­tion or an indi­vid­ual  must pro­vide  indi­vid­ual, spe­cif­ic and con­crete motives for its actions.  In this deci­sion, the Tri­bunal reach­es the con­clu­sion that the Coun­cil did not suf­fi­cient­ly ground its motives nor take into account the argu­ments why the PKK should not appear on this list.

All European governments obliged to respect  the verdict? 

 This ver­dict will have imme­di­ate effects for the orga­ni­za­tion. All mem­ber States of the Union hav­ing the oblig­a­tion to con­form them­selves to the ver­dict, and beyond them, all mem­bers of the Euro­pean Coun­cil, all deci­sions ren­dered by indi­vid­ual States will have to be annulled. Thus, indi­vid­u­als wronged by these deci­sions (dur­ing the peri­od cov­ered by the appeal) may recov­er their rights.

The renew­al of the list of ter­ror­ist per­sons and orga­ni­za­tions occurs every six months, at a min­i­mum. Thus, if cer­tain States were to ground their con­clu­sions on new ele­ments, this could lead to the PKK being returned to the list. The deci­sion is thus clear­ly circumscribed.

This legal bat­tle is not over . Still, this deci­sion rep­re­sents a move for­ward for those who were repressed, incul­pat­ed, sen­tenced, or impris­oned direct­ly as a result of a link estab­lished with the incrim­i­na­tion of the orga­ni­za­tion as terrorist.

The bal­ance of pow­er between States and the hag­gling in the back­rooms, notably dur­ing the “meet­ings” over Syr­ia, will prob­a­bly decide the future evo­lu­tion of the advances born from this deci­sion, be they pos­i­tive or oth­er­wise. This is with­out pre­sum­ing of the atti­tude of oth­er inter­na­tion­al pow­ers. On this top­ic, the recent dec­la­ra­tions between Trump and Erdo­gan are par­tic­u­lar­ly worrisome.

PKK • Un juge­ment favor­able de la Cour Européenne Cliquez pour lire

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