Will UK Legalise LTTE soon?–British Tribunal’s Decision Might Pave Way

LTTE, a terrorist organization, which kept Sri Lanka burning for over a decade, and which was involved in some high profile killings like that of Rajiv Gandhi, former Indian Prime Minister of India, may soon be legaised in United Kingdom. In a controversial judgement yesterday, British tribunal has ruled against the ban on the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE). The ruling was given following an appeal filed by the Transnational Government of Tamil Eelam’s (TGTE) against the proscription of the LTTE. Britain’s Proscribed Organisations Appeal Commission found that the Home Office decision to keep the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) proscribed as a terrorist organisation was “flawed” and unlawful, and paves the way for the organisation to possibly being legalized in the United Kingdom. The Commission which issued its judgement in London yesterday morning, will now hold a second hearing to decide on relief to be issued to the applicants. The Commission could instruct the UK Home Secretary to lay a statutory instrument before parliament that may ultimately remove the LTTE from the list of proscribed organisations in the UK. 

In December 2018, the TGTE (Transnational Government of Tamil Eelam’s)  wrote to the then Home Secretary Sajid Javid MP asking him to deproscribe the LTTE on the basis that –it was not involved in terrorism and that it’s continuing proscription was impeding the freedom of speech and assembly of Tamil people (including the TGTE). In March 2019, the Home Secretary rejected the application.

“I hope the government will now lift the ban as it is not legitimate,” one TGTE member said to prominent Sri lankan news daily. “The LTTE were freedom fighters, not a terrorist organisation”.

“An organisation is only meant to be proscribed where the home secretary reasonably believe that an organisation is currently concerned in terrorism,” said solicitor Jamie Potter. “Ultimately it found that the home secretary had been materially misled in the way that the advice of those groups had been presented to him at the time.”

“Therefore the decision that the home secretary made was unlawful.”

The LTTE has been designated a Proscribed Terrorist Group under the UK’s Terrorism Act 2000 since 29 March 2001.

The Home Office asked members of the Proscription Review Group (PRG) to provide any relevant information on the LTTE, which requested a report on “current terrorist activities” of the LTTE from the Joint Terrorism Analysis Centre (JTAC), a report on international relations implications of a removal of the ban from the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO)  and a community impact assessments (CIAs) from “various organisations” looking at the impact of de-proscription on the Tamil community in the UK. Based on this evidence, the PRG held its own meeting wherein it discussed its analysis.

Here are few incidents which took place between 2012 & 2019 which prove LTTE has been involved in terrorism:

  1. Between 2012 and 2017 LTTE has been involved in atleast 6 terrorist related incidents, especially in Sri Lanka.
  2.  The Joint Terrorism Analysis Centre (JTAC), had found that LTTE members were behind the November 2018 murder of two Sri Lankan policemen in Batticaloa.Though a former LTTE cadre was arrested and detained for months over the murder, he was eventually released with all charges dropped after a clear link established between the murder of the policemen and the ISIS terrorists who carried out the Easter Sunday bomb blasts and were possibly linked to the Sri Lankan state.
  3.  It was found that –in January 2017 an alleged plot to assassinate a “moderate Sri Lankan MP”, Tamil National Alliance’s MA Sumanthiran, had LTTE’s fingerprints.
  4. LTTE was suspected to be behind the killing of the bodyguard of a Jaffna High Court judge in July 2017.

The Britain’s Proscribed Organisations Appeal Commission ultimately found that the decision was fatally flawed because the minutes of the PRG meeting were not attached to the submission made by officials to the Secretary of State before they made their decision and instead, the submission made by officials on which the Secretary made their decision offered a broad and inaccurate summary of the PRG meeting saying that the Secretary of State should “agree to maintain the proscription of the LTTE in accordance with the PRG recommendation”.

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