Today, the General Court in Luxemburg determined that the decisions to maintain the PKK on the EU list of terrorist organizations in the period 2014-2017 must be annulled. The Council of the European Union failed to provide these decisions – which are reviewed every six months – with sufficient reasons.
Every six months, the Council of the European Union takes a new decision about the placement of an organization on the EU Terrorist List. This decision is accompanied by a statement of reasons, which must include the substantiation for the decision. The placement decision must be based on decisions by European Member States or third countries. In the case at hand reference was made to decisions by the US authorities and a decision by the United Kingdom. These were all national decisions that were at least 10 years old. The General Court held that, in particular in light of the peace negotiations in 2012-2013, these decisions in and of themselves could no longer justify continued placement.
From 2015 onwards, the Council added a French judgment in which some people had been convicted of lending support to the PKK to its reasons for placement. However, this verdict also concerned old facts. Moreover, the PKK itself had not been a party to the French case and as such, without further explanation, it could not be ascertained that the judgment was relevant to the placement decision.
Aside from the various national decisions, the Council also made reference to facts that were said to be of a terrorist nature, that were supposedly committed by the PKK. However, the PKK extensively disputed those facts. Nothing in the 2014-decisions substantiated the facts and as such, the General Court was unable to determine whether they were correct or not. Although the decisions from 2015 onwards refer to where those facts are stated, it has not been shown that the Council – also in light of the contestation – has investigated whether those facts are true or not. The General Court cannot re-examine whether the facts are true or not.
In addition, the General Court held that the Council provided insufficient information about how it took the change of circumstances brought forward by the PKK into account. Apart from the peace-negotiations, this also concerns developments in 2015 in relation to the fight against ISIL.
In light of all these reasons, the General Court holds that the 2014-2017-placement decisions are null and void. Though the decisions from 2018 have been substantiated in the same way, they are not a part of the procedure at hand because it had already been closed. Formally therefore, the present placement is not affected.
The Council can file an appeal against this decision.
For more information, you may contact lawyers Marieke van Eik and Tamara Buruma.
Read the full decision here.