UK Court Invalidates Terrorist Asset Freezing

UK Court Invalidates Terrorist Asset Freezing Counterterrorism Blog: UK Court Invalidates Terrorist Asset Freezing Regime as Unconstitutional

Today, the UK’s high court invalidated the country’s asset freezing regime against terrorists, ruling it to be unconstitutional.

The ruling has been described as devastating to the UK’s strategy against terrorism. It was based on the court finding that the UK government could not simply implement UN Security Council resolutions directly, but had to go to Parliament first to get them authorized.

One presumes, however, that if the PM wants to free assets of suspected terrorists his party, which definitionally controls the House of Commons, would back his play. Presumably, too, Parliament could pass legislation setting forth the parameters by which Cabinet ministers could issue should orders on their own initiative.

No doubt, there are plenty of times when law enforcement needs to act quickly against terrorists even more so than against ordinary violent criminals. It’s far from clear, though, why this would apply to asset forfeiture.

Graphic via International Institute for Counter-Terrorism

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James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is a Security Studies professor at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College and a nonresident senior fellow at the Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.

Comments

  1. Tad says:

    No doubt, there are plenty of times when law enforcement needs to act quickly against terrorists even more so than against ordinary violent criminals. It’s far from clear, though, why this would apply to asset forfeiture.

    I agree with this only in so much as it requires either secrecy, closed session etc., or is still quick enough that an organization cannot liquidate their assets. Given that, this doesn’t seem like a impediment at all, how many politicians would stand up for someone named by their own government as a terrorist. Or more importantly how many politicians would risk defending an organization who could conceivably attack the country. No I think they will all err on the side of protecting their own asses from potential damage down the road.

  2. legion says:

    Indeed, Tad, but what is it about freezing a terrorist’s assets that needs (or indeed, can) be secret? Such an action could only realistically be taken after the ‘persona non grata’ declaration. I’m sure the ‘wingers will pounce upon this as some horrifying example of how the British courts hate freedom or some such crap, but really they’re just reminding the PM’s office that they have to follow their own laws and proper procedure before acting. If only someone would do that on this side of the Atlantic…