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  • Need for Protection from Repressive Laws and Over-Regulation | Charity & Security Network
    diverse sector gets the necessary protection both in terms of making sure that NPO s are not abused for terrorist financing and in terms of avoiding the overregulation of the sector which could hamper its proper functioning In this regard we find particularly relevant that NPOs aren t put under pressure for political reasons and that the rights to freedom of expression and association of individuals in civil society are respected at all times Or in other words there is a need for the regulators to be regulated as well emphasis added Seger recommended the project follow up with further dialog including with the Financial Action Task Force The representative of Sweden s statement noted the negative trend of growing restrictions on civil society internationally and urged states to recall article 22 of the International Covenant for Civil and Political Rights ICCPR which limits governmental restrictions on freedom of association He quoted the International Center for Not for Profit Law s report Defending Civil Society to note such restrictions In follow up comments the distinguished representative of Tanzania made a key point noting that poverty and ignorance have a negative impact on youth that leaves them vulnerable to terrorist recruitment and that the work of nonprofits can support youth as a way of combatting terrorism Going forward I hope that this process does result in ongoing dialog especially since the human rights issues must be guiding principles for any regulation of the nonprofit sector in any country These include freedom of expression and association for people engaged in civil society and open and non discriminatory humanitarian access to people in need of aid These principles have been recognized but need to be more clearly articulated and emphasized But things are off to a promising start There is reason to hope the U S is listening to this conversation as it participated in several of the meetings and provided some technical assistance to the process But the current U S approach to nonprofits and anti terrorist financing is out of step with the principles of proportionality and protection that shape this emerging international framework For example there has been no proportionality in the sanctions the U S Treasury Department has imposed on the nine U S charities it has added to the terrorist list All funds were frozen all programs shut down There was no opportunity to get rid of the problematic board member or employee or sever relationships with the problematic foreign NGO Offers to restructure organization s programs and boards were rejected More importantly Treasury rejected all proposals to establish a process to release frozen funds to charities that could ensure they reached the innocent beneficiaries donors intended to help See our reports Collateral Damage and U S Charities and the War on Terror A Decade in Review That is a zero tolerance strategy not a proportionate one It makes the mistake of thinking that if all aid is stopped the terrorist group in an area will somehow be

    Original URL path: http://www.charityandsecurity.org/blog/Need_for_Protection_from_Repressive_Laws_and_Over-Regulation (2016-02-16)
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  • De/Listed: U.S. Lacks Review Process for Terror Designations | Charity & Security Network
    frozen in large part because Al Buthi was a member of the board of directors Even without a formal process it is not unheard of for the U S to decide that an individual or organization be removed from one of its terrorist lists Headlines were made at the end of 2012 as the Mujahadin e Khalq MEK was removed from the U S Foreign terrorist Organization FTO list maintained by the State Department citing MEK s public renunciation of violence and the absence of confirmed acts of terrorism by the MEK for more than a decade The move came after intense media scrutiny thousands of dollars in lobbying efforts by the MEK and allegations that public officials violated U S law by accepting payment to speak on behalf of the group while it was still listed Mohammed Salah was removed from SDGT list recently after having been on it for almost 17 years Salah was imprisoned in Israel in 1993 for assisting Hamas and his name was added to the U S list in 1995 After serving his prison sentence Saleh returned to the U S where he was subjected to further punishment for his crime this time in the form of economic sanctions According to a statement by the Center for Constitutional Rights Salah lived under incredibly onerous restrictions which bar virtually all economic transactions and was unable to get a job pay rent obtain medical care or even buy a loaf of bread without first obtaining approval from the Treasury Department Salah s name was only removed after he filed suit against the government in September 2012 The cases of the MEK and Salah depict a system where politicking legal wrangling and blind luck are prerequisite skills for getting delisted Being delisted by the UN was a

    Original URL path: http://www.charityandsecurity.org/blog/De_Listed_Lack_of_Review_Terrorist_Designations (2016-02-16)
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  • As So Often Before, Now in Mali | Charity & Security Network
    says it will resume its programs as soon as the security situation allows The spike in violence and dangers for civilians is also likely to have a regional impact If the fighting continues says Handicap International a group that had been distributing food in Mali until it suspended its operations on Jan 9 2013 it may lead to further population displacements to neighboring countries such as Burkina Faso and Niger This should not come as a surprise given that much of the violence in Mali has its roots in the 2011 toppling of Muammar Qaddafi in Libya Even before that regime had completely collapsed large numbers of weapons began finding their way out of Libya and into Mali and other countries across North Africa The surge of weapons refortified the native Tuareg fighters position in the northern parts of Mali and also benefited a number of armed groups in the region including al Qaeda in the Maghreb AQIM It has been reported that AQIM took advantage of Qaddafi s wavering power by importing arms from Libya as early as March 2011 Over the last ten months Mali has endured a military coup d état regional food insecurity a weak transitional government a separatist uprising and an occupation of the country s northern half by armed groups And the response by France and its allies as so often before is essentially all in military terms Meanwhile only a tiny percentage about 2 percent of the 370 million in humanitarian support earmarked for the region by the UN has been received by the aid groups who requested it In response to the military intervention supported by UN Security Council Resolution 2085 to take back northern Mali from terrorist extremist and armed groups Amnesty International cautioned that indiscriminate attacks arbitrary detentions torture extrajudicial

    Original URL path: http://www.charityandsecurity.org/blog/As_So_Often_Before_Mali (2016-02-16)
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  • Toward a Robust, Free and Independent Civil Society | Charity & Security Network
    nearly impossible for them to operate Often passed under the guise of fighting foreign threats national laws and regulations frequently infringe upon the right to freedom of association by imposing burdensome registration procedures or severe restrictions on a group s ability to obtain funding These may include NGO laws assembly and association laws laws that restrict independent journalism and increasingly since 9 11 counterterrorism legislation In the U S the anti terror framework over the past decade has had a chilling effect on civil society and the people they serve Charities have been shut down without notice or fair process anti war and environmental groups have been infiltrated by government spies and in 2010 the Supreme Court voted to uphold a law that prohibits peacebuilding activities aimed at turning terrorist groups away from violence To make matters worse that same law makes it nearly impossible for humanitarian actors to reach or offer assistance to civilians living in territory controlled by blacklisted terrorists for fear of prosecution if some of that aid inadvertently falling into the wrong hands Rather than aiding in the prevention of terrorism these counterterrorism policies exacerbate the problem In dealing with today s challenges the U S and other countries should draw inspiration from the courageous and forward thinking leaders who responded to the devastation of World War II not by placing limits on freedoms and rights but by adopting the Universal Declaration a bulwark against oppression Vibrant civil societies will continue to play a vital role in protecting the fundamental rights delineated in the Universal Declaration And while it is not a fight that will be won overnight or without struggle let all of us be inspired by former President Jimmy Carter who on the Universal Declaration s 30 th anniversary said For millions of people

    Original URL path: http://www.charityandsecurity.org/blogs/Toward_Robust_Free_and_Independent_Civil_Society (2016-02-16)
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  • Don’t Miss These Columns on Twitter, Hamas and the Material Support Statute | Charity & Security Network
    for human rights and peace in coordination with a designated group was a crime under the law The Supreme Court agreed and rejected our argument that such activity is protected by the First Amendment But why stop at Twitter What about Google Facebook or Verizon all of which have almost certainly provided their services in the form of google searches social networking and phone and email access to Hamas or its members For that matter what about Pepsi and Coca Cola who have surely sold soda bottles to Hamas in the Gaza Strip What about Exxon Mobil and Shell Oil whose gas has very likely powered Hamas vehicles And what about public radio and CNN whose news services are available around the world including in Gaza But Rottman points out key limitations in the Court s ruling that suggest Twitter has not run afoul of the law saying Fortunately there may be two counterarguments based on limiting language in Humanitarian Law Project First the Supreme Court there made it clear that independent advocacy even if in support of the ends of a terrorist group would not be material support The Court reasoned that the definition of service in the statute requires something done at the command of another So in the context of providing communications equipment one could argue that the service has to be something like renting a satellite phone not passively providing data and hosting services For de facto common carriers like Twitter open to all the provision of service is not coordinated in the way the Court seems to argue is necessary and it certainly does not suggest support in the sense of concerted activity in furtherance of the goals of the designated terrorist organization Second the decision limits itself narrowly to the facts of the case namely direct political and humanitarian guidance and notes that not every application of the material support statute will survive First Amendment scrutiny Both authors note an interesting legal issue involved in the Twitter situation Cole notes that Twitter is for all practical purposes a common carrier providing its service to all comers Would we hold a telephone company responsible for allowing a gang to use its phone lines to plan a crime or the Postal Service responsible for delivering a package of drugs Rottman notes the issue not a simple one saying Cole is absolutely right but the scary caveat there is for all practical purposes Practically doesn t mean legally and Twitter is not legally classified as a common carrier under telecommunications law Further the various laws governing intermediary liability on the internet wouldn t trump criminal material support for terrorism Rottman notes the bottom line for all of us But the fact that the plain language of the statute could even conceivably reach Twitter in this context shows why the law is arguably the most dangerous speech restriction on the books today and why the Supreme Court s decision in Holder v Humanitarian Law Project was such an

    Original URL path: http://www.charityandsecurity.org/blog/Twitter_Hamas_Material_Support_Statute (2016-02-16)
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  • The Creeping Politicization of Licenses for Humanitarian Aid | Charity & Security Network
    State Department announced to the press that it would relax the rules for NGOs operating in good faith No details were available until the following day when Treasury published a Frequently Asked Questions FAQ document that made it clear the new policy only applies to government agencies and NGOs that get money from USAID Even these grantees could not spend their privately raised funds without going through an extended application process to get a specific license Most notably this policy excluded significant resources from being available to help in Somalia According to the Hudson Institute s 2012 Index of Global Philanthropy and Remittances in 2010 the nearly 39 billion in private philanthropy from charities foundations corporations and universities given to developing countries exceeded U S official government aid by almost 9 billion Now let s look at Treasury s treatment of humanitarian aid to people in Syria and Iran In September 2011 Treasury issued General License 11 for Syria This license should be the standard for all conflict zones subject to Treasury sanctions It allows NGOs to provide aid democracy building and education programs Non commercial development aid is even permitted as is payment of minor fees and taxes to the Syrian government In Iran after an earthquake struck in August 2012 Treasury issued General License C which permited American non governmental organizations NGOs to temporarily raise and send funds to Iran for humanitarian relief NGOs and a bipartisan group of lawmakers lobbied the Obama administration to allow aid for victims of the quake The license allows NGOs can transfer up to 300 000 to Iran for quake related relief and reconstruction activity They must submit detailed reports to Treasury about the assistance including the dollar amount of the transfers the recipient s of the funds and the intended use of the funds The license was in effect until Oct 5 and the day before it was set to expire it was extended until Nov 19 A campaign to get it extended included a letter of support from 12 members of Congress No Humanitarian Justification for Differential Treatment of Civilian Somalis Why do civilians in Syria and Iran get aid but Somalis are limited They are all civilians and entitled to aid from humanitarian organizations that meet the criteria of international humanitarian law independence neutrality and impartiality For details see our report Safeguarding Humanitarianism in Armed Conflict When I asked Treasury this question the answer was that the Syrian and Iranian sanctions programs are country based while the Somalia program is based on the presence of a non state terrorist group This distinction has no substantive bearing on humanitarian need which should be the primary criteria Maybe it has more to do with the relative political strength of Syrian Iranian and Somali Americans reflecting their ability to put pressure on the administration Or maybe the U S government is using humanitarian programs as a carrot to provide an incentive to Syria and Iran to modify their behavior Either way it

    Original URL path: http://www.charityandsecurity.org/blog/Creeping_Politicization_License_Humanitarian_Aid (2016-02-16)
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  • MEK’s De-listing Shows Washington’s Double-Standard Knows No Bounds | Charity & Security Network
    former Homeland Security Secretary Tom Ridge and former National Security Adviser Gen James Jones Ed Rendell the former governor of Pennsylvania said in March that he had been paid a total of 150 000 to 160 000 Current members of Congress were not immune to the MEK de listing campaign The Guardian reports that Rep Bob Filner D CA who was twice flown to address pro MEK events in France pushed resolutions in the House calling for the group to be de listed Rep Ted Poe R TX received thousands of dollars in donations from the head of a pro MEK group in his state and Rep Mike Rogers R MI chairman of the House Intelligence committee has been among the strongest supporters in Congress of delisting the group While it is refreshing to find an issue where Democrats and Republicans find common ground it is disheartening to see such a blatant example of how the law seems to be flaunted by the powerful and well connected and at the same time harshly applied to others As he does on so many issues Glenn Greenwald pushes past all the Washington clutter and gets right to the heart of this matter He writes The past decade has seen numerous material support prosecutions of U S Muslims for the most trivial and incidental contacts with designated terror groups It is hardly an exaggeration to say that any Muslim who gets within sneezing distance of such a group is subject to prosecution Indeed as I documented last week many of them have been prosecuted even for core First Amendment activities political advocacy deemed supportive of such groups When they re convicted and marginalized Muslims usually poor and powerless almost always are they typically are not only consigned to prison for decades but are placed in America s most oppressive and restrictive prison units As a result many law abiding Muslim Americans have become petrified of donating money to Muslim charities or even speaking out against perceived injustices out of fear the well grounded fear that they will be accused of materially supporting a terror group This is all part of the pervasive climate of fear in which many American Muslims live emphasis added And it is not just American Muslims who are living in this decade long climate of fear American charities are also targets of the same U S terrorist listing regime that undermines protected constitutional liberties and violates fundamental human rights to freedom of assembly and association U S law permits the government to criminally prosecute charities or individuals associated with charities for providing material support to a listed terrorist organization even when that support involves delivering life saving assistance to a conflict ravaged community or teaching the listed terrorist group how to address their grievances peacefully They also give the authority to classify charities as a terrorist shut them down without notice or a trial and seize their property indefinitely Of the nine U S charities shuttered three have faced

    Original URL path: http://www.charityandsecurity.org/blog/MEK_De-listing_Shows_Washington%E2%80%99s_Double-Standard_Knows_No_Bounds (2016-02-16)
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  • America’s Top Exports: Counterterrorism Policy and Barriers to Charities? | Charity & Security Network
    as undemocratic and totalitarian Kiai s observation was an important one to make because on its face it seems ridiculous how could anyone justly compare the atrocious treatment of nonprofits in places like Egypt North Korea Uganda and Syria to the treatment of nonprofits in the U S and Europe The U S in particular sees itself as a bastion of democratic values which we attempt to export around the world How could we be accused of stifling fundamental aspects of democracy The fact is in the years since 9 11 the U S government has passed laws and created regulations that continue to stifle the work of nonprofits What s more the U S has engaged in a concerted effort to package these barriers to civil society and export them around the world Chief among the laws fettering nonprofits is the material support prohibition It makes providing any monetary benefit along with any training expert advice or assistance to a designated terrorist group a crime punishable by steep fines and prison sentences This law effectively bars any humanitarian NGO or charity from providing aid to needy civilians trapped in areas controlled by terrorist groups The impact of this law was seen most notably in Somalia where the terrorist group Al Shabaab controlled many of the areas hardest hit by the 2011 famine It was not until a limited license was granted by the Treasury Department that USAID grantees were able to provide some aid The methods the U S employs to deal with nonprofits that have been accused of providing support to terrorists have also been called into question Two U S charities have successfully challenged the constitutionality of the process and advocates have asked Treasury to re write their rules to conform to basic due process requirements While the material support prohibition and the lack of due process for nonprofits should give those concerned about the state of civil society in the U S pause they are hardly the only impact of the post 9 11 counterterrorism regime It is the export of these laws and regulations directly through the U S or through multinational bodies like the UN that has created a lasting impact around the globe Days after 9 11 on Sep 28 2001 the UN Security Council passed Resolution 1373 calling on all member states to pass all necessary terrorism measures Between the passing of the resolution and March 2007 33 countries introduced or passed anti terrorism legislation In countries where the legislation was stalled or facing opposition U S ambassadors spoke publically of reducing U S investment should the laws not be passed or promising more aid if they were Another U S supported initiative the Financial Action Task Force FATF is a multinational body that publishes recommendations for anti money laundering and counterterrorism financing regulations FATF s Recommendation 8 states that non profit organizations are particularly vulnerable to abuse by terrorists countries should ensure that they cannot be misused According to the report

    Original URL path: http://www.charityandsecurity.org/blog/Export_Counterterrorism_Barriers_Charity (2016-02-16)
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