Lord Waddington: Why does the EU continue to call these people terrorists?
As the European Union’s Foreign Minister met with Iranian officials over the proposal for an improved nuclear package to Tehran, one incentive which he would have wished to offer is no longer legally viable.
When the EU was trying to persuade Iran to abide by its nuclear treaty obligations an Iranian opposition group recognised for exposing Tehran's nuclear programme as far back as 2002 and long seen as the democratic opposition to the present Iranian regime found itself caught up in the attempt to appease the mullahs and was listed as a terrorist organisation.
The People’s Mojahedin Organisation of Iran (PMOI) has taken legal proceedings in the EU as well as the UK to end the ban and on May 7th its efforts to free itself of the stigma of terrorism were rewarded when the British Court of Appeal, presided over by the Lord Chief Justice, Lord Phillips of Maltravers, gave judgement exculpating the PMOI and condemning the British Government for maintaining the listing against the weight of the evidence. The Court, having concluded that the Home Secretary’s refusal to de-proscribe the PMOI was "perverse" and "flawed", ordered the British government to remove the PMOI from the terror list forthwith.
The three judge panel said that "neither in open material nor in the closed material was there any reliable evidence that supported a conclusion that the PMOI retained an intention to resort to terrorist activities in the future" and that the "closed material reinforced our conclusion that the applicant [the Home Secretary] could not reasonably have formed the view when the decision letter was written in 2006 that the PMOI intended in future to revert to terrorism".
The decision of the Court had consequences for the status of the PMOI not just in Britain, for now that the UK government has agreed - in compliance with the judgment to remove the Group from its terror list within a matter of weeks - the EU's listing of the PMOI is left legally baseless.
After the PMOI won its case before the European Court of Justice in December 2006, the European Council of Ministers continued its terror listing of the Group on a technicality, but now it can no longer do so.
That is because the EU’s terror listing of the PMOI was based on the UK's proscription of the group. Both within political circles and in legal argument the Council of Ministers has never hidden the fact that they followed the UK in making the decision to proscribe and their decision was based on that of a competent national authority namely the British Home Secretary.
Thirty-five Members of both Houses of the United Kingdom Parliament came to the conclusion that that 'competent authority' had in fact acted incompetently and the Court of Appeal - after a ten day hearing, after analyzing over fifteen files of classified and unclassified material, after studying over twenty witness statements - proved them right and ruled that there was nothing to link the PMOI to terrorism.
There are still no doubt some in the EU who would wish to appease Tehran by placing restrictions on Iran’s democratic opposition, but no longer can they use the promise to keep these restrictions in place as a bargaining chip. There is now only one path the Council of Ministers can take and that is remove the PMOI from the EU- wide list of banned organisations. And to do so now before the Slovenia Presidency ends this month.
The PMOI has won its right to be free of restrictions and free of the terrorist stigma in the British courts and it has won in the European courts. Now the rule of law must prevail and Iran's opposition no longer hindered in its work to help bring freedom to the Iranian people.
Related link: Roger Gale MP - Appeasement only emboldens Iran