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European Union; Sri Lanka: Plan to Contest Decision to End Ban on Tamil Tigers

(Oct. 23, 2014) On October 16, 2014, the European Court of Justice annulled the European Council’s 2006 listing of the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE, also known as the Tamil Tigers) as a terrorist organization. The step was taken on procedural grounds and left intact the freeze on LTTE assets. According to the Court, the original decision to list the group relied on “factual imputations derived from the press and the internet” rather than on examination of the actual actions of the LTTE. (European Court Annuls Sanctions on LTTE on Technical Grounds but Maintains Asset Freeze, COLOMBO PAGE (Oct. 16, 2014); European Court of Justice, Judgment ECLI:EU:T:2014:885, INFOCURIA (last visited Oct. 20, 2014).)

Sri Lanka’s EU Ambassador Rodney Perera travelled to Strasbourg on October 21 to attend the EU parliament session; he also planned to contact two committees, foreign affairs and security and defense, and to lobby the European Commission, to contest the decision and maintain the listing. (Sri Lanka to Contest the European Court Decision Lifting Sanctions of LTTE, COLOMBO PAGE (Oct. 19, 2014).)

Political parties sympathetic to the LTTE in Tamil Nadu, India have welcomed the Court’s judgment and have demanded that the Indian government’s ban on the LTTE be lifted. India has said, however, that the European Court’s decision will not change its stance, and the Indian ban will remain in place. In addition to Sri Lanka, India, and the EU, bans of the LTTE have been declared by Canada, the United Kingdom, and the United States. (Id.)

Not all Tamil leaders are pleased with the decision. V. Anandasanaree, the president of the Tamil United Liberation Front, has argued that the judgment will help the separatist Tamil Tigers revive in Sri Lanka. He noted, “[p]ro-LTTE groups both within the island and overseas have received a shot in the arm, and will now openly propagate the LTTE’s cause of separatism and terrorism.” (Camelia Nathaniel, TULF Warns EU Court Ruling Will Help LTTE, THE SUNDAY LEADER (Oct. 20, 2014).)