UN official warns over use of torture evidence
The United Nations may be relying on evidence obtained by torture when deciding whether to impose restrictive financial sanctions on al-Qaeda suspects, a British UN official has warned.
Ben Emmerson QC, the UN’s special rapporteur on counter-terrorism, has questioned the integrity of the security council’s enforcement regime and the way it acquires its intelligence.
More than 300 people worldwide are on the committee’s combined al-Qaeda and Taliban sanctions list. Critics of the system warn that the same flaw is built into other punitive UN sanction regimes.
Mr Emmerson’s allegation supports claims made in British courts that information acquired by the former Egyptian president Hosni Mubarak’s security forces and other notorious sources has been exploited to identify suspects.
About five suspects are believed to be subject to the sanctions in the UK. Once on the list, suspects seeking to prove their innocence find it exceptionally difficult to have their names removed.
The call for reform comes as appeals to European courts threaten to undermine states’ international obligations to the UN’s sanctions committee. The sanctions regime against those who support al-Qaeda and the Taliban is operated by the UN’s 1,267 security council committee (the number derives from the relevant UN resolutions).
Checks and balances
Addressing the UN assembly in New York this month, Mr Emmerson said: “The consequences of being on the security council’s consolidated [sanctions] list are enormous, so checks and balances should be brought to international human rights standards.
“Once an individual or entity is placed on the list, states are required to impose a range of measures on those listed. Such sanctions result in a significant interference with the right to freedom of movement, property rights and the right to privacy in all its manifestations.” – (Guardian service)