Johannesburg – The inclusion of Brandon-Lee and Tony-Lee Thulsie on the US terrorism watch list is a violation of due process and an imputation of guilt before the two brothers have undergone a fair trial.
The inclusion of an individual on the secretive list has huge implications, from an inability to open a bank account to a ban on travel. It makes finding work and accommodation near impossible. This creates a perpetual ‘prison’ for people even if a court has found them innocent of terrorism charges.
The parameters for inclusion on a watch list are notoriously low. In 2014, the US administration under Obama widened the watchlist process, so that it requires neither “concrete facts” nor “irrefutable evidence” to designate an individual as a terrorist.
Instead, a single US official who is unaccountable to the Senate, is able to designate an individual a terrorist based on social media posts, involvement with organisations deemed ‘terrorist’ under equally broad terms, and countries traveled.
As has been evidenced by a number of court cases, being placed on a terrorism watchlist is also used as leverage by security services who approach individuals to be informants, in exchange for being removed from the watch list.
Feroze Boda, spokesperson for CAGE Africa, said:
“The Thulsie twins are facing serious charges, but they have not yet even had their day in court, having been detained without trial for over a year. Including them on a watchlist despite this, is a blatant violation of due process, and an example of the United States acting as judge, jury and imprisoner, without challenge. This sets a dangerous precedent in South Africa.”
“Listing them appears to be an attempt to implicate them in the minds of the public and authorities without their lawyers being given the chance to challenge the evidence against them. This is a violation of their constitutional right to be presumed innocent before proven guilty.”
“Once on a watchlist, individuals are often approached to be informants in the US-led ‘War on Terror’, and then threatened with imprisonment and torture if they don’t agree to spy on their communities. This puts individuals in a terrible catch-22 situation, the results of which can be counter-productive.”
(NOTE: CAGE represents cases of individuals based on the remit of our work. Supporting a case does not mean we agree with the views or actions of the individual. Content published on CAGE may not reflect the official position of our organisation.)