Session 2009-10
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GS 80: Letter to the Chair of the Committee from Ivan Lewis MP, Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office

Thank you for your letter of 1 March which asks about an article that appeared in the Sunday Telegraph on 17 January entitled "FCO wants convicted Islamists taken off terror list."

I can confirm that the article refers to the FCO’s decision to seek the delisting of 11 UK-based individuals from the UNSCR 1267 Al Qaida and Taliban sanctions list. The background to our decision to seek delisting in these cases is set out towards the end of this letter. But first I thought it would be useful to provide general information on the UN 1267 regime and listing/delisting procedures.

Background on the UN 1267 Al Qaida and Taliban regime

The Al Qaida and Taliban Sanctions Regime, established by UNSCR 1267 in October 1999, and amended and expanded by subsequent resolutions, imposes specific targeted measures against a list of individuals and entities deemed by the UN Security Council to belong to, to be related to or associated with the Taliban, Usama Bin Laden and the Al Qaida network. Designated (listed) individuals are subject to a worldwide asset freeze, arms embargo and travel ban. Entities are subject to an asset freeze. The regime is overseen by the United Nations 1267 Sanctions Committee; that has the same membership as the UN Security Council. The regime is a key international counter terrorist tool to help tackle the threat posed by Al Qaida and the Taliban.

Legal status of the list

States are required to implement UNSCR 1267 as part of their international obligations. Once an individual/entity is added to the sanctions list States are required to implement the restrictive measures against them. UNSCR 1267 is implemented in the EU through Council Regulation (EC 881/2002).

Current makeup of the list

There are currently 499 names on the list: 137 individuals associated with the Taliban, 256 individuals associated with Al Qaida and 106 entities associated with Al Qaida. There are 19 individuals resident in the UK who have had their assets frozen as a result of being on the UN list.

Listing procedures

Any State can propose that an individual/entity be added to the list if they meet the criteria for designation as set out in UNSCR 1267 and subsequent resolutions, in particular resolution 1617. UNSCR 1617 set out that:

2.…."acts or activities indicating that an individual, group, undertaking or entity is "associated with" Al-Qaida, Usama bin Laden or the Taliban include:

a. participating in the financing, planning, facilitating, preparing, or perpetrating of acts or activities by, in conjunction with, under the name of, on behalf of, or in support of;

b. supplying, selling or transferring arms and related material to;

c. recruiting for; or

d. otherwise supporting acts or activities of

Al-Qaida, Usama bin Laden or the Taliban, or any cell, affiliate, splinter group or derivative thereof.

3. Further decides that any undertaking or entity owned or controlled directly or indirectly by or otherwise supporting such an individual, group, undertaking or entity associated with Al-Qaida, Usama bin Laden or the Taliban shall be eligible for designation."

Listing and delisting decisions are made by consensus amongst all members of the Sanctions Committee. Therefore an individual/entity can only be added to or removed from the list if all members of the Sanctions Committee agree.

In agreeing a listing the Sanctions Committee must make available a publicly releasable narrative summary of reasons setting out why an individual or entity has been listed. This is made available on the UN website. States of residence are also required in accordance with their local laws and practices to inform the individual/entity when they have been listed or de-listed. In the case of UK individuals the FCO writes to the individual informing them they have been designated and explaining what this means, and providing the narrative summary of reasons.

UK procedures

The standard of proof which has to be met in order to list an individual under the regime or retain a name is not set out in the Security Council resolution. The test used by the FCO in determining whether the UN criteria have been met is one of "reasonable suspicion." The timescale for evaluating the criteria is whether at the time of listing the criteria for designation are satisfied in the case of a given individual or entity. The FCO uses this test when proposing a new listing or reviewing an existing one.

All decisions to propose listing or request delisting are made by an FCO Minister.

Delisting Requests

An individual or entity can submit a delisting request at any time. This can either be submitted directly to the Sanctions Committee or to their State of nationality/residence who can decide whether to submit on an individual or entity’s behalf. All applications/requests must include a justification for the delisting.

Once the Sanctions Committee receive a delisting request this triggers a review of the designation and members decide whether they can support the delisting or not. Delisting decisions are made by consensus amongst all members of the Sanctions Committee. An individual or entity can only be added or removed from the list if all members of the Sanctions Committee agree.

Over the years the Sanctions Committee have strengthened human rights safeguards in UN 1267, including delisting procedures.

The most recent successor resolution to UN 1267, UNSCR 1904, created an office of the Ombudsman to consider delisting requests. The position is designed to improve the flow of information between the listed individual and the UN. The Sanctions Committee are currently recruiting for the position.

Review of Al Qaida and Taliban Consolidated list as required under UNSCR 1822

As part of UNSCR 1822, the successor resolution to UN 1267 adopted at the end of 2008 the Sanctions Committee are required to review the cases of all individuals and entities on the Consolidated List by June 2010. The review is designed to ensure the list is up-to-date and reflects the current international threat. The UK is specifically required to review the designations of all UK residents and all those we co-sponsored to determine whether they continue to meet the UN designation criteria. In order for the test to be met there needs to be an assessment of whether the individuals and entities concerned continue to satisfy the criteria for listing based on the information available. We consult all relevant UK departments and agencies as part of this process. Once we have conducted our review we inform the Sanctions Committee of the results and either recommend continued listing or delisting. The Sanctions Committee in its entirety then take a final decision on the listing. As part of this review process we have submitted a number of delisting requests for individuals/entities that we judge no longer meet the UN designation criteria.

Delisting requests referred to in the Sunday Telegraph article

At the time the Sunday Telegraph article was published we had submitted delisting requests for 11 individuals and 3 entities after reviewing their cases and deciding they no longer met the criteria for listing. We believe it is these individuals that are referred to in the article:

Ghuma Abd’rabbah

Abdulbasit Abdulrahim

Abd Al Rahman Al Faqih

Mohammed Benhammedi

Muftah Mohamed Elmabruk

Abdelrazag Elsharif Elosta

Abdulbaqi Khaled

Tahir Nasuf

Hani El Syaed Al Sebai

El Sayed Ahmed Fathi Hussein Eliwah

Saad Al Faqih.

As previously explained all members of the Sanctions Committee have to agree to an individual or entity’s removal from the list. Some members of the Sanctions Committee have put the UK’s delisting requests for the above individuals on hold, meaning they have not been approved. We are having ongoing bilateral discussions with these States to try and reach consensus in the Sanctions Committee. Until this is achieved the restrictive measures against the individuals concerned remain in place.

Procedural Reform

The Sanctions Committee keeps the Al Qaeda and Taliban regime under constant review and plays an active role in maintaining and updating the list. The Committee is committed to providing fair and clear procedures and shall consider whether further improvements can be made when the resolution is renewed later this year.

HMG is committed to striking the balance between protecting national security and protecting an individual’s human rights. That is why we will only continue to support designations where the criteria are clearly still met and submit delisting requests where we judge the criteria is no longer met. We aim to ensure restrictive measures are used in cases where they are necessary for reasons of national security.

15 March 2010

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Prepared 13th April 2010