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 The listing has been renewed regularly by the European governments and a number of appeals  launched to have it rescinded.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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