Oppressive regimes could use new United Nations sanctions rules to punish political opponents without due process, Human Rights Watch warned today.
In a letter to Security Council members, Human Rights Watch expressed concern about the application of targeted financial and travel sanctions to individuals, and urged that guidelines for applying such sanctions include respect for basic human rights.
The U.N. Security Council is discussing how to apply sanctions that were enacted in the aftermath of September 11. Those sanctions impose financial and travel restrictions on a loosely defined category of individuals and entities whose names are provided by governments, and who have no right of review or appeal.
"Sanctions can be an important tool for ending serious human rights abuse," said Kenneth Roth, executive director of Human Rights Watch. "But they shouldn't be a tool for governments to punish their enemies unfairly. The United Nations must explicitly recognize due-process rights when it sets up a sanctions regime."
Human Rights Watch said that targeted sanctions against individuals or other entities are often preferable to generalized sanctions because they entail less suffering for civilians.
"The United Nations is right to move toward targeted sanctions," said Roth. "But it must be meticulous in how they are applied."
Human Rights Watch called on the U.N. Security Council to establish clear rules under which the names of individuals can be placed on the list, to establish a clear mechanism for appeal and clear guidelines for review, and to clarify the conditions to be fulfilled for eventual removal of names from lists.
In applying the measures foreseen by resolutions 1267, 1333, and 1390 to individual citizens, the Council should ensure that the basic due-process rights of these individuals are guaranteed, in particular the right to equality before the law, the right to be informed of the reasons for the sanction or restriction imposed, the right to prepare a defense, the right to be heard, the right to challenge evidence, and the right to obtain a review.