Swiss urge UN to change terror list

Being on the UN terrorist watch list can mean a travel ban Keystone

Switzerland has urged the United Nations Security Council to improve the way names are added or removed from a sanctions list related to al-Qaeda and the Taliban.

This content was published on May 31, 2006 - 11:07

Ambassador Peter Maurer, who also addressed the assembly on behalf of Germany and Sweden, said the meaning of an association with these terrorist organisations had to be clearly defined.

There are currently 142 individuals on the list who are linked to the former Afghan regime and 212 people and 122 businesses connected to Osama bin Laden's al-Qaeda network.

Sanctions against those named include travel bans, arms embargoes and a freeze on financial assets. The Security Council first imposed sanctions against the Taliban in November 1999; these were later extended to al-Qaeda.

All UN member nations are required to uphold the prohibitions and most entries - the majority of which were submitted by the United States - are not challenged.

Notify suspects

During his speech on Tuesday in New York, Maurer stressed that the international organisation should find ways to notify targets of the decision to impose sanctions on them and allow them to request a review of their listing.

The latter was the most important issue to be considered, Maurer underlined, because the "lack of a review mechanism raises questions of due process and it is this deficiency that is most often brought up in courts".

Also it was imperative that the listings be periodically reviewed at least every two years.

"Excessively long durations tend to change the preventative character of sanctions into permanent punishment, which could be very difficult for national and regional courts to accept in the long run," Maurer said.

In-depth report

Bern, Berlin and Stockholm jointly commissioned a report by the Watson Institute for International Studies at Brown University to take a closer look at how such sanctions could be improved, which is to be circulated among UN members.

The document describes the legal challenges faced by the bans, the improvements made by the UN to the system and the lack of review procedure.

Its main conclusion is that the current state of affairs may infringe human rights.

swissinfo with agencies

In brief

The UN Security Council is made up of 15 countries – the permanent five and ten other members elected for two-year terms.

It has the authority to send UN peacekeeping forces to conflict zones.

The council can also authorise enforcement measures, economic sanctions or collective military action.

Switzerland joined the UN in September 2002 following a nationwide vote. It does not have a seat on the Security Council.

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