British court declares freezing of terrorism assets ‘unlawful’

April 25th, 2008 - 7:05 am ICT by admin  

DPA
London, April 24 (DPA) The High Court in London ruled Thursday that the freezing of assets held by terrorism suspects was unlawful in Britain because it “bypassed” parliament. The court ruled in favour of five men who had challenged the powers imposed in Britain under United Nations (UN) laws.

The men have so far not been charged with terrorism offences and argued that the confiscation of their assets had a “devastating and humiliating impact” on their lives.

The decision by Britain’s highest civil court is a blow to the government which regarded the asset freezing scheme as a key plank in its fight against terrorism.

“I am very disappointed that the court has challenged the asset freezing regime,” Home Secretary Jacqui Smith said Thursday, announcing that the government would appeal the ruling.

“We must be able to use all the tools we can to tackle terrorism and to protect the public. Preventing people getting and using money that is likely to be funding threats to this country is a key tool,” said Smith.

She added that the rules were recognized by the UN and were applied in other European Union (EU) countries.

The judges ruled, however, that the measures were not subject to the same parliamentary scrutiny as normal legislation and that parliamentary approval for their imposition should be obtained.

The Treasury said the asset-freezing regime and individual asset freezes would remain in place pending the appeal.
DPA

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