The General Court of European Union has annulled the Council’s measures taken against the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE), which was designated as a terrorist organisation by the EU, on procedural grounds.
In a judgement delivered on Thursday in Luxembourg, the Court determined that the Council had not carried out the necessary checks when determining a ‘competent authority’ during the case.
Indian authorities were relied upon by the Council in this regard, as a ‘third state’ outside the EU, however, the Court ruled today that the Council had failed to carry out a “thorough examination” that is needed to ensure the protection of the rights of defence and the right to effective judicial protection that would be equivalent to that in the EU.
“The Court finds that the contested measures are based not on acts examined and confirmed in decisions of competent authorities, as required by Common Position 2001/931 and case-law,2 but on factual imputations derived from the press and the internet,” the Court said in a press release following the ruling on Thursday.
“Therefore the Court annuls the contested measures while temporarily maintaining the effects of the last of those measures in order to ensure the effectiveness of any possible future freezing of funds.”
See full statement here.
Delivering the ruling, the Court stressed however, “those annulments, on fundamental procedural grounds, do not imply any substantive assessment of the question of the classification of the LTTE as a terrorist group within the meaning of Common Position 2001/931.”
It will take three months before the annulment would take effect, in order to “ensure the effectiveness of any possible future freezing of funds”.
A team of lawyers and Tamil representatives who had pursued the case on behalf of the LTTE had argued that the LTTE, as an actor within an armed conflict was subject only to international humanitarian law, not anti-terror legislation. The court however, ruled against this.
“In today’s judgment, the Court finds that EU law on the prevention of terrorism also applies in ‘armed conflicts’ within the meaning of international law. Therefore, the LTTE cannot claim that the existence of an armed conflict precludes a possible application of EU law with regard to them,” the Court said.
Speaking to media, human rights lawyer, Arun Gananathan, said,
“This is a landmark judgement and legal victory for the Tamil people. The judgement will have far reaching implications to those in the diaspora that are allegedly linked with the LTTE. This judgement will cast doubt on several rulings that have silenced Tamil activists by linking them to terrorism or the LTTE.”
“A heavy burden has been placed on the European Council over the next 3 months as they will have to meet the higher evidential tests outlined by the court for them to dispute the judgement. Given the quality of evidence used previously, it will be very difficult for the Council to continue to justify the restrictions that were placed on individuals and organisations.”