Although the LTTE was placed on the EU list relating to frozen funds of terrorist organizations in 2006 based on references to decisions made by Indian authorities, the LTTE contested their maintenance on the list. They stated before the CVRIA that their confrontation with the Government of Sri Lanka was an ‘armed conflict’ that falls within the meaning of the International Law, subject only to International Humanitarian Law and not to Anti-Terrorist legislation. They had gone on to state that being included in the list relating to frozen funds is based on ‘unreliable grounds’ that do not derive from decisions of competent authorities.
In consideration of the submissions made by the LTTE, the CVRIA noted that the Court finds that an authority of a state outside the EU maybe a ‘competent authority’ provided that the Council verifies at the outset that the legislation of the third state ensures protection of the rights of defense and of the right of effective judicial protection equivalent to that guaranteed at the EU level. The Court noted that since such an examination was not carried out by the Council with reference to the stance it took in including the LTTE in the list, but were based on ‘factual imputations derived from the press and the internet’.
As such the CVRIA annulled the Council measures maintaining the LTTE on EU list of terrorist organizations.
It however declared that the EU law on the prevention of terrorism also applies in armed conflict, within the meaning of international law and therefore the LTTW cannot claim the existence of an armed conflict precludes a possible application of the EU law with regard to them.
General Court of the European Union
PRESS RELEASE No 138/14
Luxembourg, 16 October 2014
Judgment in Joined Cases T-208/11 and T-508/11 Press and Information Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) v Council
The Court annuls, on procedural grounds, the Council measures maintaining the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam on the European list of terrorist organisations
However, the effects of the annulled measures are maintained temporarily in order to ensure the effectiveness of any possible future freezing of funds.
The Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) are a movement which opposed the Government of Sri-Lanka in a violent confrontation which resulted in the LTTE’s defeat in 2009.
In 2006, the Council placed the LTTE on the EU list relating to frozen funds of terrorist organisations and has maintained them on that list ever since, referring to, inter alia, decisions of Indian authorities.
The LTTE contest their maintenance on the list. They submit that their confrontation with the Government of Sri-Lanka was an ‘armed conflict’ within the meaning of international law, subject only to international humanitarian law and not to anti-terrorist legislation. In addition, the maintenance on the list relating to frozen funds is based on unreliable grounds which do not derive from decisions of ‘competent authorities’ within the meaning of Common Position 2001/931/CFSP.(1)
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.
As regards the decisions of Indian authorities relied upon by the Council, the Court finds that an authority of a State outside the EU may be a ‘competent authority’ within the meaning of Common Position 2001/931. However, the Council must carefully verify at the outset that the legislation of the third State ensures protection of the rights of defence and of the right to effective judicial protection equivalent to that guaranteed at EU level. The Court finds that the Council did not carry out such a thorough examination in the present case.
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.
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.
The Court stresses that 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.
1 Council Common Position of 27 December 2001 on the application of specific measures to combat terrorism (OJ 2001 L 344, p. 93)
2 See Article 1(4) of the Common Position and Case:C-539/10 P and C‐550/10 P Al-Aqsa v Council and Netherlands v Al-Aqsa
NOTE: An appeal, limited to points of law only, may be brought before the Court of Justice against the decision of the General Court within two months of notification of the decision.
NOTE: An action for annulment seeks the annulment of acts of the institutions of the European Union that are contrary to European Union law. The Member States, the European institutions and individuals may, under certain conditions, bring an action for annulment before the Court of Justice or the General Court. If the action is well founded, the act is annulled. The institution concerned must fill any legal vacuum created by the annulment of the act.
Read the verdict here