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Learning From the Uighurs: Correcting Inadequate Due Process in Terrorist Financing Sanction Regimes Open Access

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Terrorist blacklists constitute an invaluable piece of an effective counterterrorism policy, but like so many legal frameworks that rely on classified information and the word of government officials, they are ripe for abuse. Through a case study this paper examines how one such incident of abuse--the listing of the Eastern Turkestan Islamic Movement (ETIM), a Uighur nationalist group, on the United States' terrorist sanctions list under Executive Order 13224--contributed to the decade long erroneous detention of twenty-two Uighurs in Guantanamo Bay Naval Base, and how it could have been prevented with adequate due process protections in place. This incident illustrates that while terrorist sanctions are considered preventive measures rather than criminal punishment, the consequences of listing can be severe and should trigger due process. Due process safeguards are not incompatible with terrorist sanctioning regimes, and incorporating reasonable human rights guarantees will make sanctioning regimes more credible and effective. One existing terrorist blacklist, 8 U.S.C. §1189, properly balances minimum due process protections with national security interests. This statute--which includes notice, an impartial hearing, presentation of evidence, and the availability of appeal--should be the model of minimum due process required of all blacklisting legislation to eliminate existing loopholes and ensure proper human rights protection in counterterrorism measures.

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