Hamas May Come Off EU’s Terror Watchlist

     (CN) — A European Court of Justice adviser said Thursday that Hamas and another group should be removed from the EU’s list of known terrorist organizations due to a lack of corroborated evidence that the groups have continued committing acts of terror.
     Advocate General Eleanor Sharpston’s opinions for the EU high court comes in response to an appeal by the EU Council, which has long included both Hamas and the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam on its list of known terrorist organizations. Both Hamas and the Liberation Tigers challenged their continuing inclusion on the list, leading the European General Court to order the groups’ removal from the list in 2014.
     The council argued on appeal that the general court ignored a key reason why lawmakers included the groups on the list: a 2001 decision by the United Kingdom that both are terrorist organizations, and Hamas’ continuous inclusion on the United States’ list.
     In her advisory opinion for the Luxembourg-based high court, Sharpston said the council has a duty to verify that decisions made by authorities in third states to place groups on terror watchlists are “subject to a level of fundamental rights protection at least equivalent to that guaranteed by EU law.”
     For cases like this, where the council continued to list Hamas and the Liberation Tigers based on earlier assessments by British and U.S. authorities, Sharpston said the council must independently determine whether continued listing is justified by examining evidence from competent authorities.
     “The council is precluded from relying on a list of terrorist attacks without those being shown in decisions of competent authorities,” Sharpston wrote. “The council cannot rely on facts and evidence found in press articles and information from the internet, rather than in decisions of competent authorities, to support a decision to maintain the listing.”
     Sharpston also noted that the general court didn’t complete its task, since it only found that some of the council’s reasons for listing the groups weren’t justified but didn’t examine whether other reasons might tip the scales in favor of the council’s decision.
     However, the adviser said after examining the other reasons herself the council still lacks sufficient evidence for Hamas and the Liberation Tigers’ continued inclusion on the terror watchlist.
     Sharpston’s opinion is not binding on the European Court of Justice, which has begun its own deliberations in the case.

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