EU extends LTTE Terrorist ban for 6 months

The European Council has extended by another six months the listing of the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam as a terrorist organisation. The decision, dated July 30, was taken under the European Union’s regulation on specific restrictive measures directed against certain persons and entities with a view to combating terrorism.
“We have managed to convince the EU’s 28-member states of the continuing threat of the LTTE,” said Rodney Perera, Sri Lanka’s Ambassador in Brussels. “This was an arduous task since we had to update dossiers with tangible evidence, from the years past up to the present.”

Compiling of the requisite information was done by law enforcement and other related agencies in Colombo under the supervision of the Foreign Ministry. “The embassy in Brussels ensured that the authorities followed the proper format in keeping with the views of EU nations’ anti-terror experts who meet in Brussels regularly,” Ambassador Perera said, adding that he conferred with all 28 country representatives at regular intervals to ensure the LTTE ban was maintained.

The Council first relisted the LTTE on March 21 this year, continuing the “specific restrictive measures directed against certain persons and entities with a view to combating terrorism”. The LTTE was among 20 organisations named and the relisting was the result of a protracted diplomatic battle. The LTTE was first labelled as a terrorist movement in 2006 and has remained so ever since. But, while the group did not challenge its initial listing, it did contest before the European General Court (EGC) its subsequent retention on the list.

In 2014, the EGC annulled the restrictive measures imposed on the LTTE, citing “procedural shortcomings”. But it decided to maintain until the conclusion of any appeal the effects of the annulled measures to ensure the effectiveness of any possible future freezing of funds. The EU Council appealed to the European Court of Justice (ECJ) against the 2014 judgment. In July 2017, however, the ECJ confirmed an annulment of the continued freezing of the LTTE’s funds between 2011 and 2015. But the funds remained frozen as a result of the two most recent reviews by the Council in July 2016 and January 2017.

The ECJ directed that the LTTE be taken off the EU list. It said: “In the statements of reasons relating to the restrictive measures, the Council did not refer to anything that might explain why it considered at the time that, notwithstanding the LTTE’s military defeat in 2009, it was the LTTE’s intention to continue terrorist attacks in Sri Lanka.”

Thereafter, Sri Lanka’s diplomatic machinery engaged the member States of the European Council to find ways and means of collating material to address the ECJ’s concerns and keep the LTTE on the list. Politically, all member states and the EU took the unwavering position that the LTTE should remain on the list. However, in view of the court decision, the methodology was on legal, technical and security ground and Sri Lanka’s efforts were rewarded.

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