UN terror suspect list has many flaws: official.
Dozens of terrorism suspects remain on a United Nations sanctions list despite having likely died and information on others is so scant as to render their inclusion useless, a U.N. ambassador said on Tuesday.
These flaws make it tough to impose bans on people and companies on the list linked to al-Qaeda and the Taliban, even as new threats emerge in countries like Somalia, said Thomas Mayr-Harting, who chairs the U.N. Security Council's al-Qaeda and Taliban Sanctions Committee. Of 513 entries on the list which includes 402 people and 111 companies, 38 people were reported or believed to be dead, Mayr-Harting, who is also Austria's ambassador to the United Nations, told reporters.
"It is not the purpose of the list to contain dead people," he said, adding that as much as a third of the list is basically useless because the information available is too sketchy for law enforcement officials to act on.
"Either you improve credibility by improving the list or by taking the names off," he said.
But taking the dead people's names off the list requires consensus among all members, which slows the process, Mayr-Harting said. Relatives of the dead cannot access assets that were frozen until the names are struck off, he added.
A resolution adopted last year has helped the committee make the list more relevant to today's threats. The committee is reviewing the list case by case and expects to weed out the irrelevant entries by the middle of next year, Mayr-Harting said.
The Security Council set up the committee, made up of all 15 members, in 1999 to impose sanctions on Taliban-controlled Afghanistan for its support of al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden. The list now includes names of people and firms that have ties to the Taliban, al-Qaeda and its leader Osama bin Laden.
The threat posed by them has grown dramatically since then but the sanctions list does not reflect the changes, Mayr-Harting said.
Sudanese Canadian cleared
In a related development that underscored Mayr Harting's criticism of the list's flaws, Abousfian Abdelrazik, a Sudanese born Canadian who was accused of having ties to al-Qaeda, was finally cleared of charges and returned to his home in Canada last week after six years in exile in Sudan.
Abdelrazik was forced to remain in exile when he left Canada to visit his ailing mother in Sudan after the U.N. Committee had placed sanctions on him following U.S. charges that he provided administrative and logistical support to al-Qaeda.
Abdelrazik, who denied being a terrorist, vowed to clear his name and have officials who accused him face justice. His assets remain frozen.
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