Luxembourg: Britain is wrong to restrict
social security payments to the wives of suspected al-Qaeda
and Taliban members living there, the European Court of
Justice ruled on Thursday.
The decision by the Luxembourg-based court -- which
interprets EU law and ensures its equal application throughout
the European Union -- could affect some of Britain`s
The case was referred to the Court of Justice by
Britain`s House of Lords after the wives of suspects whom
Britain says have links to Al-Qaeda, Osama bin Laden and the
Taliban have appealed against restrictions on their benefits,
claiming a violation of their rights.
They argue that while their husbands are subject to an
asset freeze, they themselves are not and should continue to
receive social security aid such as child benefit and housing
Under British anti-terrorism laws, the spouses of
terror suspects may also see their social payments restricted.
The EU court ruled that the British treasury`s
interpretation that "by receiving state benefits the wives
indirectly make funds available for the benefit of their
husbands is not based on any danger whatsoever that the funds
in question may be diverted in order to support terrorist
"It is hard to imagine how those funds could be turned
into means that could be used to support terrorist activities,
for the benefits are fixed at a level intended to meet only
the strictly vital needs of the persons involved," it said.
The British authorities had ordered that payments,
such as child benefit, housing benefit and income support,
should be withheld from people named on a UN terror list which
requires an assets freeze.
They made an exception for the wives, but under
certain conditions, including allowing only small cash
withdrawals on the payments and requiring monthly accounts for
all household expenditure.
To make cash available to their husbands was a