Dead people on UN terrorism sanctions list

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Dozens of terrorism suspects remain on a UN sanctions list despite having likely died and information on others is so scant as to render their inclusion useless, a UN ambassador said.
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 UN Security Council’s Al Qaeda and Taliban Sanctions Committee.
Of 513 entries on the list, 38 people are reported or believed to be dead, Mayr-Harting, who is also Austria’s ambassador to the UN, told reporters.
“It is not the purpose of the list to contain dead people,” he said.
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 third of the entries are missing basic information, such as full names, dates of birth and other particulars, Reuters reports.
Without these details, police, border guards and financial institutions cannot freeze funds or ban travel, he added.
“Either you improve credibility by improving the list or by taking the names off,” he said.
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 bin Laden.
The threat posed by them has grown dramatically since then, but the sanctions list has not reflected the changes, Mayr-Harting said.
Somalia’s al Shabaab insurgents, whom the US accuses of having close ties to al Qaeda, are not on the UN sanctions list, said Richard Barrett, coordinator of the UN Sanctions Monitoring Team.
“The links between the two groups clearly aren’t enough for the Council to add it to the list,” Barrett said.
Al Shabaab has made gains this year in its bid to overthrow the Western-backed transitional government of Somalia.