In the first case to be heard by the newly established Supreme Court of the United Kingdom, two of the nation's most effective counter-terrorist financing policies were unanimously struck down. In an 89-page opinion issued Wednesday, the court was especially critical of the laws describing them as "oppressive," and "draconian."
As we previously reported, at issue in the case, A v. Her Majesty's Treasury was the Terrorism Order of 2006 and the Al Qaida and Taliban Order of 2006, two statutes which evolved from UN Security Council resolutions requiring member states to freeze the assets of Osama bin Laden, the Taliban, and their ilk. Rather than ask Parliament to pass laws to comply with the resolutions, the Crown in the UK implemented the laws unilaterally.
The petitioners in the case, six individuals whose assets were frozen because of their connections to al Qaida, challenged the law arguing that it was passed without consulting Parliament and deprived them of their property without due process of law. In issuing its opinion, the Court agreed, explaining that "access to a court to protect one's rights is the foundation of the rule of law."
In addition to the lack of consultation with Parliament, the Court seemed particularly concerned with the far-reaching and serious effect of asset freezing measures. As the Court explained, the freezing measures:
"which are not subject to any time limit, place very severe limitations on the ability of persons who have been designated to deal with their property. They have an extremely grave effect upon their freedom of movement, their liberty and private and family lives, and those of their families and their associates."
While the court couched its decision as a victory for separation of powers and due process rights in the United Kingdom, its ruling is a blow to international efforts to pursue terrorist financiers.