A top European Union lawyer says Hamas should be dropped from the bloc’s blacklist, citing lack of concrete evidence showing the involvement of the Palestinian resistance movement in alleged terrorist activities.
Eleanor Sharpston, an advocate general at the European Court of Justice (ECJ), urged on Thursday the removal of both Hamas and the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE), a Sri Lankan rebel group, from the EU terror list.
The EU "cannot rely on facts and evidence found in press articles and information from the internet, rather than in decisions of competent authorities, to support a decision to maintain a listing,” Sharpston said.
In 2001, the EU adopted regulations to combat terrorism. Under the rules, the bloc imposed travel bans and asset freezes against Hamas and the LTTE.
In 2014, however, the General Court of the European Union, the second-highest court in the bloc, ordered both Hamas and the LTTE to be struck off the bloc’s terror list in two separate decisions. The court said the EU had based its decision, regarding the blacklist of the groups, on publicly available information rather than on any finding by a competent authority.
The Council of the EU, representing the governments of member states, in turn appealed the court ruling.
Elsewhere in her remarks, the top EU lawyer called on the ECJ to reject the appeal.
Given that "some of the reasons advanced could not justify the decision to maintain the listing of LTTE and Hamas," the General Court was correct to dismiss the EU appeal when it could find no other sufficient reasons for their listing, Sharpston said.
Accordingly, the ECJ "should annul the measures maintaining Hamas and LTTE on the EU list of terrorist organizations on procedural grounds,” she added.
Hamas has ruled the impoverished and the Israeli-blockaded Gaza Strip since 2006, when it scored a landslide victory in legislative polls.