The majority of the European population has been willing to accept much of the use of terrorism legislation as a means to put an end to terrorist activity. However in recent times, one specific case and one particular piece of this terrorism legislation has come under major criticism from all quarters in Europe.
The European Union blacklist has for a number of years now been used as a tool to ban organisations and individuals accused of having links to terrorism. However, the analysis in the case of the People's Mojahedin Organisation of Iran (PMOI/MEK), the principal Iranian resistance organization and the pivotal force of the opposition coalition of the National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI), is that rather than being listed due to any link to terrorism, this organisation was in fact listed simply to further relations with the Iranian regime, one of the main supporters of international terrorism.
The PMOI (MEK) case, while being discussed quietly for years in Brussels circles, first hit the headlines in December 2006 when the European Court of First Instance (CFI) found in its favour, annulling its blacklisting in the EU. In November 2007 the organization gained a second victory in the national courts of the UK when the Proscribed Organisations Appeals Commission (POAC), found the PMOI (MEK) to not be concerned in terrorism.
The findings of the CFI have been questioned due to the fact that no merit analysis of the PMOI (MEK) case was conducted. This argument was the basis for the continued blacklisting of the PMOI (MEK) in the EU. However, the findings of the POAC leave such an argument lacking any significant weight. The POAC conducted an unprecedented analysis of the PMOI (MEK) case through 5 days of open and 2 days worth of closed hearings in addition to over 15 files worth of evidence and 20 witness statements. The PMOI (MEK) case was laid on the table and the decision not to de-list the PMOI (MEK) found to be 'perverse', 'flawed' and 'must be set aside'. It was significant for the EU case since it was the British who had operated as the mullah regimes chief lobbyists in European circles.
The blacklisting system came under further fire in the European Assembly of the Council of Europe in January. Dick Marty, a Swiss senator who conducted a full analysis of the EU and UN blacklists found that both lists were deeply flawed. In specific reference to the PMOI (MEK) case he indicated "the PMOI’s (MEK) fundamental rights continue to be violated" The report also noted that the ruling by the POAC ordering the British government to de-proscribe the PMOI (MEK) was "a real slap in the face for Her Majesty's Government." A resolution in favor of the report was passed by the Council also.
On January 31, the European Parliament in a resolution, condemning systematic and flagrant violations of human rights in Iran, once again underscored the rulings of the European Court of Justice, and the UK Court which annulled the designation of the PMOI (MEK) in the EU terror list. The Parliament recalled the "decision of the European Court of First Instance of 12 December 2006" that annulled the inclusion of the PMOI (MEK) in the EU terror list, and took note "of a decision of the British Proscribed Organizations Appeal Commission of 30 November 2007, calling on the British Home Secretary to remove the PMOI (MEK) from the list of proscribed organizations immediately."
This situation has left the EU with a considerable problem on its hands. As Mrs. Maryam Rajavi, the President-elect of the National Council of Resistance of Iran pointed out, by deciding to maintain the PMOI (MEK) on its terror list, the EU Council is absolutely isolated and is defying two pillars of the European democracy, namely Europe's judicial and legislative institutions.
It is evident that a blacklist system is something which most people would agree with in principle. However, a failure to deal with the PMOI (MEK) case in a justified manner under the rule of law will unfortunately leave the entire blacklist system under question and attack.
This has surpassed the simple discussion of whether we like or dislike the PMOI (MEK). Some may well argue that this is an organization we should not support while others see it as the solution to the entire crisis surrounding the Iranian regime. However, our terrorism lists should not be allowed to become political fields where organizations are used as footballs to further the political expediency of the day.
The conclusion that we must make from the case of the PMOI (MEK), the primary victim of the Iranian regime's suppression at home and terrorism abroad is that political decisions must not be allowed to infect the decisions of our independent judiciaries. In order for this blacklist system to remain a credible solution in fighting terrorism, the PMOI (MEK) must be removed from both the EU and UK lists with immediate effect. The rule of law in simple terms must be implemented.