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Counterterrorism

Volume 715: debated on Monday 30 November 2009

Statement

My honourable friend the Exchequer Secretary to the Treasury (Sarah McCarty-Fry) has made the following Written Ministerial Statement.

In a Written Ministerial Statement on 10 October 2006, the then Economic Secretary, Ed Balls, undertook to report to Parliament on a quarterly basis on the operation of the UK’s counterterrorism asset-freezing regime.

This is the 12th of these reports and covers the period July to September 2009.1

Asset-Freezing Designations

In the quarter July to September 2009, the Treasury gave no directions under the Al-Qaeda and Taliban (United Nations Measures) Order 2006. The Treasury revoked no directions given under this order.

The Treasury gave two directions under the Terrorism (United Nations Measures) Order 2009. None of these was in respect of individuals already designated under earlier orders.

There were no financial sanctions designations made at the UN, or at the EU in relation to terrorism or al-Qaeda and the Taliban of persons with links to the UK.

As of 30 September 2009, a total of 247 accounts containing £580,000 of suspected terrorists’ funds were frozen in the UK.

Reviews under the Terrorism Order 2006

The Treasury keeps domestic asset-freezing cases under review and completed two formal reviews this quarter; both individuals remained designated under the Terrorism Order 2006.

Licensing

Licensing is the means by which the UK gives effect to exemptions in asset-freezing provisions whether related to UN or EC regulations or domestic terrorism legislation. Each licence is considered on a case-by-case basis. The key objective of the licensing system is to strike a balance between minimising the risk of diversion of funds to terrorism and the humanitarian rights of the individuals and third parties affected.

Thirty-five licences were issued this quarter in relation to individuals and/or entities subject to an asset freeze under the Al-Qaeda and Taliban, and Terrorism Orders.

Litigation

On 5 to 8 October 2009 the Supreme Court heard the case of G and Ors V HM Treasury. This challenged the legality and proportionality of the Al-Qaeda (United Nation Measures) Order 2006 and the Terrorism (United Nations Measures) Order 2009. We await judgment.

Developments

The Terrorism (United Nations Order) 2009 came into force on 10 August 2009 and will continue to apply until August 2010 unless revoked sooner. The 2009 order replaces and revokes the Terrorism (United Nations Order) 2006. The key aims of the amendments in the new order are to tailor asset-freezing restrictions to ensure that the prohibitions are focused on areas of genuine operational concern, and to strengthen and make more explicit the safeguards in how the regime is operated. The key changes under the Terrorism Order 2009 include:

safeguards that all designations must be necessary for the protection of the public;

that designations will now expire after 12 months unless reviewed and renewed within that period; and

modifications to the prohibitions, particularly provisions regarding the making available of funds and economic resources for the benefit of a designated person.

1 The detail that can be provided to the House on a quarterly basis is subject to the need to avoid the identification, directly or indirectly, of personal or operationally sensitive information.