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JOSE MARIA SISON VERSUS COUNCIL OF EUROPEAN UNION,

by ILPS Committee on Aging and the Elderly-USA Tuesday, May. 23, 2006 at 2:41 PM
magsasakapil@hotmail.com 213-241-0906 337 Glendale Blvd. Los Angeles, CA 90026

On Tuesday 30 May 2006 from 9 :30 a.m. onward, the Court of First Instance of the European Communities will examine the legality of the antiterrorist list adopted by the Council of the European Union in the case of Filipino professor Jose Maria Sison. Can the Ministers of the 25 European countries qualify a person as a terrorist and exclude him from economic life with neither evidence nor due process? The stake is crucial for all the defenders of fundamental rights in Europe.

JOSE MARIA SISON VERSUS COUNCIL OF EUROPEAN UNION,

CASE T-47/03 ABOUT ‘TERRORIST LISTING’

BEFORE THE EUROPEAN COURT OF FIRST INSTANCE



On Tuesday 30 May 2006 from 9 :30 a.m. onward, the Court of First Instance of the European Communities will examine the legality of the antiterrorist list adopted by the Council of the European Union in the case of Filipino professor Jose Maria Sison. Can the Ministers of the 25 European countries qualify a person as a terrorist and exclude him from economic life with neither evidence nor due process? The stake is crucial for all the defenders of fundamental rights in Europe.

On 28 October 2002, the Council of the European Union adopted the decision 2002/848/EC by which Mr. Jose Maria SISON as a natural person and the New People's Army (NPA) as a group or entity allegedly linked to him were included in the list of so-called terrorist organizations. This decision is in the framework of the fight against the financing of terrorism, which is governed by a Council Regulation of the European Union. The European Union thus followed the United States and The Netherlands which had listed Mr. Sison and the NPA as of August 12 and August 13, 2002, respectively.

Born in 1939 in Cabugao, Ilocos Sur, Philippines, professor Sison gained fame as teacher, poet, political scientist and writer. He was Chairman of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) before his arrest by the dictatorial régime of Marcos in 1977. He was detained for more than 8 years until March 5, 1986 during which various forms of physical and mental torture were inflicted on him. In September 1988, the Philippine government cancelled his passport while he was abroad on a lecture tour in various universities. Professor Sison then sought asylum from the Netherlands. Since 1990, Jose Maria Sison has been the chief political consultant of the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) in the peace negotiations with the Philippine government, with the third party facilitation of the Norwegian government. He in particular has contributed to the forging of the Comprehensive Agreement on Respect for Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law by the parties in the civil war in the Philippines.

The Council Decision of the EU, which regards Mr. Sison as a person participating in or facilitating terrorist acts, is baseless. Mr. Sison is neither the subject currently of any judgment nor even of any criminal proceeding in any of the countries which placed him on the list. It is impossible to know the material reasons and elements which led the Council of the European Union to describe him as terrorist. The lawyers of professor Sison lodged several requests for access to the documents but each time he was refused, with the Council claiming that their disclosure could endanger public safety and the international relations of the Union.

Following the adoption of this list, the joint bank account of Mr. Sison and his wife was frozen. In this account, he had received since since many years ago a social allowance and the Sison couple used this account to pay for their daily purchases, to pay their invoices of electricity etc. The balance of the account never exceeded 2.000. The Council of the EU never bothered to explain in what way the blocking of this account or the royalties of his works, the suspension of the social benefits received by Mr. Sison, the prohibition to subscribe to insurance for health or civil liability could concretely contribute to counter the financing of terrorism.

In the name of the fight against terrorism, a person is thus deprived of the most basic social rights and the authorities try to reduce him to the state of beggary and homelessness.

The decision to put professor Sison on this list and the procedure which preceded it obviously violate the elementary basic rights (right to due process, presumption of innocence, right of defense). The consequences of this decision involve the negation of the right to live a life with human dignity.

The case of professor Sison shows the abuses, which result from antiterrorist decisions. In his case, it is obvious that these measures are used with an aim other than the antiterrorist fight. It is actually a question of exerting pressure on the National Democratic Front of the Philippines, whose chief political consultant is Jose Maria Sison, in the negotiations with the Philippine government, as admitted by the Philippine Secretary of Foreign Affairs, Blas Ople in January 2003: "when there is an agreement of peace, I will ask the European Union, the United States and the other countries to withdraw the rebels from the terrorist lists of organizations". (see the article: "Reds must sign peace agreement to get off terror list -- Ople", Agence France-Presse, February, 1, 2003 (http://www.inq7.net/brk/2003/feb/01/brkpol_12-1.htm)

The proceedings for annulment against the inclusion of professor Sison in the list, introduced in February 2003 will be examined on Tuesday May 30, 2006 from 9 :30 a.m. onward at the 2nd chamber of the Court of First Instance of the European Union in Luxembourg (Rue de Fort Niedergrünewald, Kirchberg Plateau, L-2925 Luxembourg). This hearing is open to the public.

The Council of the European Union, with the support of the Netherlands and the United Kingdom, insists that the traditional guarantees of the European Convention of Human Rights would be inapplicable, under the pretext that the making of this list is a purely administrative procedure. This reasoning opens the door to very serious breaches and the curtailment of fundamental principles of civil rights. With the adoption of Regulation (EC) n° 2580/2001, the Council of the European Union, a nonjurisdictional body made up exclusively of members of the governments of the Member States, assume powers normally reserved for independent courts: to designate individuals as terrorist and to inflict on them serious sanctions amounting to penalties. It thus negates completely the principle of separation of powers.

The case of professor Sison also shows that this mechanism is a misuse of power since it allows a political institution to use the fight against terrorism as means of diplomatic and foreign policy .It is essential that all human rightst organizations and militants mobilize and alert public opinion against this violation of fundamental principles. In this respect, the hearing of the application filed by professor Sison in Luxembourg will be a crucial event in the struggle for humans rights, as well as in the antiterrorist fight within the legal system of the European Union.

Jan FERMON with the collaboration of Mathieu BEYS Lawyers at the bar of Brussels For any additional information: Jan.Fermon@Progresslaw.net or Mathieu.Beys@Progresslaw.net

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