Feature Article

Challenging 2006 EU ban on LTTE, next step of legal activism on principled grounds: Mendis

[TamilNet, Tuesday, 03 December 2019, 23:27 GMT]
Based on the legal victory obtained in 2018 in Switzerland, the Tamil diaspora should relinquish fear and challenge the initial 2006 EU ban on LTTE on moral and justice grounds, said exiled Sinhala activist Viraj Mendis, who addressed a packed audience in Oslo on 09 November. The activist, who has been championing the cause of Eezham Tamils for more than 35 years, announced a one-year intensive documentation-cum-legal project to challenge the EU ban. The announcement was made in Oslo, Norway, where Mr Mendis was taking part at the Norway-launch of the book, “Nanthik-kadal Peasuki'rathu” (Nanthik-kadal Speaks). The project has gained a moral boost on Tuesday when the Federal Supreme Court of Switzerland announced that it rejected an appeal lodged by Switzerland's Federal Prosecutor's Office against the precedent-setting judgment of the Federal Criminal Court in June 2018.

Mr Mendis, based in Bremen, Germany, was actively following the Swiss case as well as mobilising support against the much-publicised Swiss case against former LTTE-affiliated activists and their organisation, WTCC.

The SL State, which was supplying information to the Swiss authorities to project their arguments during the lawsuit, responded by declaring Viraj Mendis as a ‘terrorist’ in an extraordinary Gazette notification issued in May 2019.

The Swiss Supreme Court verdict announced on Tuesday had refused to accept the argument of the Swiss government prosecutor that the LTTE was a criminal organisation. LTTE’s primary objective was to secure the independence of the ethnic Tamils, the verdict held rejecting the appeal to consider the LTTE as a criminal and/or terrorist organisation.

The initial case in Switzerland went on for seven years, and the 2018 trial took eight weeks and had cost CHF3.79 million ($4 million) to the prosecutor.

The ruling was outstanding and much better-placed than the decisions by the European Court of Justice (ECJ/CJEU) in 2014 and 2017, which were based on procedural grounds. However, the EU case was only a half-way victory as the ruling was based on procedural grounds rather than the merits of justice.

The Swiss Federal Prosecutor appealed the 2018 Swiss decision in April 2019.

The initial court decision (also now upheld by the Supreme Court in December 2019), was a victory for the Right of Self-determination oriented national liberation armed struggles that get wrongly classified as terrorism due to international politics, Marcel Bosonnet, one of the legal experts who defended the Tamil activists told TamilNet in an interview in June 2018.

The EU had initially proscribed the LTTE in 2006 when the movement was engaged in the peace process. The EU was supposedly backing the peace process at the same time.

In December 2014, the General Court of the EU annulled, citing procedural grounds, the European Council's decision to maintain Hamas and the LTTE on the EU's proscribed list of terrorist organisations.

The European Council appealed against that decision in 2017.

However, the Court of Justice of the European Union (ECJ/CJEU) upheld the previous annulment on the LTTE but ruled Hamas should remain on the list on 26 July 2017.

At the same time, the ECJ/CJEU verdict maintained that the Council could still keep an entity on the list if it concluded that there was an ongoing risk of that entity being involved in the terrorist activities that justified their initial listing.

Thus, the Council needed to rely on more recent material than used in its initial decision to list the LTTE again.

It is therefore vital for Eelam Tamils, as Viraj Mendis narrates, to address the LTTE proscriptions in the countries that claimed to steer the peace process through the Tokyo Co-Chair countries (EU, USA, Norway and Japan).

The UK and the USA mooted the EU ban. Thus the prohibition in the UK and the international-politics based terrorism classification must be legally challenged by the Eezham Tamils on a principled ground.

So far, the Tamil diaspora groups in the UK have failed to address the LTTE ban in the UK.

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External Links:
NZZ.CH: Freisprüche im Tamil-Tigers-Fall bestätigt
Swissinfo.ch: Tamil Tigers acquitted in Switzerland



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