Press and Information
PRESS RELEASE No° 47/07
11 July 2007
posted in http://www.curia.europa.eu/en/actu/communiques/cp07/aff/cp070047en.pdf
Judgments of the Court of First Instance in Cases T-47/03 and T-327/03
Jose Maria Sison v Council of the European Union
Stichting Al-Aqsa v Council of the European Union
THE COURT OF FIRST INSTANCE ANNULS THE COUNCIL DECISIONS ORDERING
JOSE MARIA SISON AND STICHTING AL-AQSA'S FUNDS TO BE FROZEN IN THE
FIGHT AGAINST TERRORISM
The contested decisions infringe the rights of the defence, the
obligation to state reasons and the right to effective judicial
On 28 September 2001 the United Nations Security Council adopted
a resolution calling on all the Member States of the United Nations
to combat terrorism and the funding of terrorism by all possible
means, in particular by freezing the funds of persons and entities
that commit, or attempt to commit, acts of terrorism. The resolution
did not, however, identify the persons and entities in question, it
being left to the Member States to determine that identification.
That resolution was given effect in the Community by, inter alia, a
common position1 and a Council regulation2, adopted on 27 December
2001, ordering the freezing of the funds of the persons and entities
included in a list drawn up and regularly updated by Council
decisions. Names must be entered in the list on the basis of precise
information or material in the relevant file which indicates that a
decision has been taken by a competent authority, as a rule judicial,
in respect of the persons and entities concerned, whether that
decision concerns the instigation of investigations or prosecution
for a terrorist act, an attempt to perpetrate, participate in or
facilitate such an act, based on serious and credible evidence, or
sentence for such deeds. The names of persons and entities included
in the list must be reviewed at regular intervals, at least once
every six months, to ensure that there are still grounds for keeping
them in the list.
Jose Maria Sison, a Filipino national, has resided in the Netherlands
since 1987. When the Philippine Government withdrew his passport in
September 1988 he applied for refugee status and a residence permit
in the Netherlands on humanitarian grounds. That application was
refused three times by decision of the State Secretary for Justice
on the ground that Mr Sison was the chairman of the Communist
Party of the Philippines ('the CPP'), that the military wing of
the CPP, the NPA (New People's Army), was under the Central
Committee of the CPP and that Mr Sison was, in fact, the head
of the NPA which was responsible for a large number of terrorist
acts in the Philippines. The first two decisions were annulled
by the Raad van State, but the third was upheld by decision of
11 September 1997 of the Arrondissementsrechtbank te 's Gravenhage.
By a common position and a decision of 29 October 2002, the
Council updated the list of persons and entities whose funds must
be frozen in order to combat terrorism, including Mr Sison in
particular. The Council has since then adopted various common
positions and decisions updating the list in question. Mr Sison
has always remained on the list.
Stichting Al-Aqsa is a foundation governed by Dutch law, which
describes itself as an Islamic social welfare institution. One
of its main objectives as a charitable institution is to help
to alleviate the humanitarian emergencies in the West Bank and
the Gaza Strip. To that end, it cooperates with several
organisations in Israel and in the occupied territories, to
which it gives financial support in order to carry out humanitarian
projects. On 3 April 2003 the Minister for Foreign Affairs of
the Netherlands adopted the Sanctieregeling Terrorisme 2003
(Regulation on sanctions for the suppression of terrorism 2003),
which ordered, inter alia, the freezing of all Al-Aqsa's funds
and financial assets on the ground that its transfers of funds
were intended for organisations supporting terrorism in the Near
East, in particular Hamas. An action against the Sanctieregeling
was rejected by the competent national authority.
By a common position and a decision of 27 June 2003, the Council
updated the list of persons and entities whose funds must be
frozen in order to combat terrorism, including, in particular,
Stichting Al-Aqsa. The Council has since then adopted various
common positions and decisions updating the list in question.
Al-Aqsa has always remained on the list.
Mr Sison and Al-Aqsa have brought actions before the Court of
First Instance seeking annulment of the decisions ordering
their funds to be frozen.
The Court finds, as it did previously in the 'Modjahedines'
case3, that certain fundamental rights and safeguards, especially
the rights of the defence and the right to effective judicial
protection, and also the obligation to state reasons, are in
principle fully applicable to the adoption of a Community
decision freezing funds pursuant to Regulation No 2580/2001.
On the conclusion of its examination of the two cases Sison and
Stichting Al-Aqsa, the Court finds that those rights and safeguards
were not respected by the Council in its adoption of the contested
decisions. Reasons were not given for those decisions, which were
adopted in the context of procedures in which the rights of the
defence of the persons concerned were not observed and the Court
itself was unable to review the lawfulness of those decisions.
In those circumstances, the Court concludes that the contested
decisions must be annulled in so far as they concern Mr Sison
and Al-Aqsa, respectively.
REMINDER: An appeal, limited to points of law only, may be brought
before the Court of Justice of the European Communities against a
decision of the Court of First Instance, within two months of its
1 Common Position 2001/931/CFSP on the application of specific
measures to combat terrorism (OJ 2001 L 344, p. 93).
2 Regulation (EC) No 2580/2001 on specific restrictive measures
directed against certain persons and entities with a view to
combating terrorism (OJ 2001 L 344, p. 70).
3 Judgment of 12 December 2006 in Case T.228/02 Organisation
des Modjahedines du peuple d'Iran v Council, see Press Release 97/06