October 23, 2014 / 10:04 PM / 4 years ago

Ombudswoman calls for oversight for all U.N. sanctions regimes

UNITED NATIONS (Reuters) - The ombudswoman for the United Nations’ al Qaeda blacklist on Thursday called for her oversight to be expanded to more than a dozen other U.N. Security Council sanctions regimes to ensure fair process for the individuals and entities targeted.

Ombudswoman Kimberly Prost has the authority to recommend removal of people from the U.N. al Qaeda blacklist, which currently has 231 individuals and 69 entities. The 15 council members must agree unanimously to override the recommendation or call for the council to take up the issue.

Prost says she needs oversight for other UN sanctions regimes to prevent people being removed from one, only to be put another, and to ensure people on all blacklists have an equal chance of being removed.

Argentina, Security Council president for October, highlighted the possibility of extending the mandate of the Office of the Ombudsperson to all sanctions regimes as an issue for discussion during a council debate on its working methods on Thursday.

“I’m obsessed with fair process,” Prost told the council. “There is no evident rational as to why an independent review mechanism is made available to one set of individuals subject to targeted sanctions but not to others.”

U.N. Security Council sanctions regimes can impose a travel ban, asset freeze and arms embargo on individuals and entities.

Human rights advocates have criticized the al Qaeda sanctions list on grounds it is virtually impossible to be removed from it.

The Security Council created the role of the ombudsperson for the al Qaeda sanctions regime in 2009 and expanded the powers of the office in 2011 to allow it to recommend the removal of people from the al Qaeda blacklist.

People or entities wishing to be removed from other UN sanctions regimes must appeal to the UN itself, rather than an independent office set up to review its blacklisting decisions.

Prost cited an example of why the authority of ombudsperson should cover all sanctions lists. She said a couple of years ago one individual was removed from the al Qaeda sanctions list, only to be placed on another U.N. blacklist on the same day. Prost gave no more details of the case.

“In one context he had access to the review mechanism in another he did not,” Prost said citing the “Al Qaeda experience” as one that demonstrates that fair process is good for effective implementation of the sanctions.”

Prost also told the Security Council it needed to make its sanctions listing process more transparent.

“Improved due process has a dual effect in the context of targeted sanctions,” she said.

“It evidently enhances the protections for individual rights but at the same time it strengthens the credibility of the regime ,” Prost said.

International Criminal Court Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda backed the call for expanded oversight of U.N. sanctions lists.

“There are important areas of convergence between the sanctions regimes and the work of the ICC as a whole, which would benefit from a single focal point to address them,” Bensouda told the council.

“A pertinent example is the urgent need to confidentially list travel bans for persons who have to be transferred to the ICC,” she said.

Reporting By Mirjam Donath; editing by Andrew Hay

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