Dr Gavin Sullivan part of team that removed Tunisian national from UN Security Council blacklist

Kent Law School Lecturer, and solicitor, Dr Gavin Sullivan is part of an international legal team that worked pro bono to help remove a Tunisian national from a UN Security Council terrorism blacklist.

The UN Security Council Isil and Al-Qaida Sanctions Committee removed Mr Nassim Saadi from their global blacklist yesterday. His removal from the list followed an application filed to the UN Office of the Ombudsperson in 2017 by Dr Sullivan, Mr Saadi’s solicitor, working with barrister Dr Rachel Barnes (Three Raymond Buildings) and Dr Alice Riccardi (Roma Tre University, Italy).

Mr Saadi was placed on the UN’s terrorism blacklist at the request of the US and Italian governments. Secret evidence alleged he was “associated with” an Al-Qaida affiliated group – an allegation Mr Saadi has long denied. Dr Sullivan said: ‘Mr Saadi had been subjected to more than 15 years of crippling targeted sanctions without due process to challenge his listing. As a result, he was unable to travel, open a bank account and it was a criminal offence for anyone to give him money. The impact of the listing – for both Mr Saadi and his family – has been devastating. This week’s delisting decision vindicates his position, confirms that he is not ‘associated with’ terrorism, and gives him the long-awaited chance to rebuild a normal life.’

The decision is a success for the Transnational Listing Project, a global law clinic founded by Dr Sullivan in 2012. The Project provides pro bono representation (and an opportunity for a fair process) to people targeted by security lists worldwide. Student volunteers from Kent Law School assisted Dr Sullivan on Mr Saadi’s case through their participation in his innovative Kent LLM module in Global Security Law. They also had opportunities to work collaboratively with students on Dr Riccardi’s International Terrorism course at Roma Tre University. Dr Barnes, Special Counsel with the Transnational Listing Project, also led the legal team’s advocacy efforts at a crucial January 2019 ‘dialogue meeting’ between Mr Saadi and the UN Ombudsperson in Tunisia.

Dr Sullivan is an expert in global counterterrorism law and governance and has published research on the UN Office of the Ombudsperson. He has advised the UN Special Rapporteur on Counter Terrorism and Human Rights, undertaken research for the UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights and helped draft best practice guidelines for all UN Member States on countering foreign terrorist fighters whilst respecting human rights. His forthcoming book The Law of the List: UN Counterterrorism Sanctions and the Politics of Global Security Law will be published by Cambridge University Press in 2020 as part of their Global Law series. His current research on countering extremism online and data governance is supported by the British Academy.

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