The European Union’s Court of Justice (ECJ) has ruled that Hamas, the Palestinian political organisation, should remain in the bloc’s “terror” list, refering the case back to lower court.
ECJ judges on Wednesday overruled the General Court’s view of 2014 that the 28-nation bloc had insufficient evidence to maintain asset freezes and travel bans on Hamas.
That lower court found that the listing was based on media and Internet reports rather than solid legal arguments.
However, the ECJ said that a decision by a competent authority was only required for an initial listing, with no such condition for subsequent retention.
In December 2014, the General Court said Hamas should be removed from the list because the EU’s decision to place it on the “terror” sanctions list was not the result of an independent investigation.
The European Council, in turn, appealed that finding, believing the General Court “was wrong in its assessment of the way in which the Council relied on information in the public domain”.
ECJ Advocate General Eleanor Sharpston in September joined those demanding Hamas be dropped from the “terror” list.
The EU could not “rely on facts and evidence found in press articles and information from the internet, rather than in decisions of competent authorities, to support a decision to maintain a listing”, she said.
Given that “some of the reasons advanced could not justify the decision to maintain the listing”, the General Court would be correct to dismiss the EU appeal when it could find no other sufficient reasons for their being listed.
Accordingly, the ECJ “should annul the measures … on procedural grounds”, Sharpston said.