UK Supreme Court: Freezing Assets of Suspected Terrorists Illegal
An order allowing UK government measures to freeze the assets of people suspected of terrorist involvement ushered in in 2006 when Gordon Brown was chancellor was overturned by the Supreme Court today.
The Supreme Court justices said, ''If the Government considered "far-reaching measures" were necessary to combat terrorism, "it must first obtain approval for them from Parliament."
Lord Hope said: "Even in the face of the threat of international terrorism, the safety of the people is not the supreme law. We must be just as careful to guard against unrestrained encroachments on personal liberty."
Lord Phillips, president of the court, said: "Nobody should conclude that the result of these appeals constitutes judicial interference with the will of Parliament. On the contrary, it upholds the supremacy of Parliament in deciding whether or not measures should be imposed that affect the fundamental rights of those in this country."
According to the Guardian, Two asset-freezing orders against 5 men were imposed between 2005 and 2007 as part of measures implementing a UN security council resolution. One of the five has already been named by the Bank of England in an earlier decision as Mohammed al-Ghabra from east London. A second, Hani el-Sayed Sabaei Youssef, has successfully sued the home secretary for wrongful detention after a failed attempt to deport him to Egypt. He has broadcast regularly on al-Jazeera.
The remaining suspects are brothers: Mohammed Jabar Ahmed, Mohammed Azmir Khan and Michael Marteen, previously known as Mohammed Tunveer Ahmed. The whereabouts of the first two is unknown.
A Treasury spokesman said: "It's important to be clear that this ruling does not challenge the UK's obligations under the UN Charter to freeze the assets of suspected terrorists, which we will continue to meet."
The Supreme Court is the final court of appeal in the UK for civil cases. It hears appeals in criminal cases from England, Wales and Northern Ireland. It hears cases of the greatest public or constitutional importance affecting the whole population.