Sikh Federation – UK Governent condemned on handling of application to have ban lifted on International Sikh Youth Federation

Sikh Federation (UK) representatives who made the application praised by leading lawyer

London, 22 December 2016. David Anderson QC, the independent reviewer of terrorism legislation in the last of his six annual reports released earlier this month into the operation of the Terrorism Acts has heavily criticised the UK Government on its handing of the application to have the ban removed on the International Sikh Youth Federation (ISYF).

The UK’s outgoing terror watchdog David Anderson QC in his damning 142-page report states: “It is . . . important that:

– Applications for deproscription are promptly handled, and statutory time limits respected.

– Deproscription must follow automatically, without regard for discretionary factors, if the statutory test (“is concerned in terrorism”) is not met.

– When an application for deproscription is refused by the Secretary of State, the fullest possible reasons are given so that the organisation in question can properly assess the prospects of appeal.

– Persons should not be put to the expense and uncertainty of resorting to the Proscribed Organisations Appeals Commission (POAC) unless the Government is prepared to defend its judgement and has the evidence confidently to do so.”

In his final report after six years in the influential post, David Anderson QC states: “None of these standards appears to have been met in the case of the application made on behalf of the International Sikh Youth Federation (ISYF) in February 2015.”

Last year he reported the application was not determined until almost three months after the expiry of the 90-day statutory time limit and the decision letter refusing the application for deproscription gave no detailed reasons, and none were provided on further request.

In a damning indictment he has pointed out that “remarkably, the Government presented no evidence to POAC in favour of its own positon. Indeed it elected not to defend the case in December 2015, on the final day appointed by POAC for the submission of such evidence.

Given the opportunity to state in Parliament whether new evidence had come to light by December 2015 . . . the Government declined to do so.”

David Anderson QC has made clear: “Without resorting to legal action, the ISYF would remain a proscribed organisation today” despite the complete absence of evidence. “The ISYF was fortunate to have both the resources to take the case to POAC, and sympathisers willing to put their head above the parapet. This will not be true of other organisations.”

Bhai Amrik Singh, the Chair of the Sikh Federation (UK) said:

“The leadership of the Sikh Federation (UK) were the ones who decided to challenge the UK Government and prove there was no evidence to retain the ban on the ISYF.”

“We were confident of a victory as we have discovered increasing evidence in the last two years under the 30-year rule of how the Indian authorities have in effect been using promises of trade since the mid-1980s and ‘blackmailing’ the UK Government to take wholly inappropriate and extreme anti-Sikh measures.”

“Many of these measures have been through the British intelligence services and police who have been working hand in glove with their Indian counter parts. We will do our best in 2017 to stat to reveal the truth behind the Anglo-Indian conspiracy against the Sikhs.”

“The actions taken collectively by the British and Indian authorities against the minority Sikh community are a complete disgrace given the huge contribution and sacrifices by Sikhs for freedoms in both the Indian sub-continent and Europe.”

“The words of the Prince of Wales today on the persecution of religious minorities are equally relevant to the Sikhs in the UK and India.”

“Ever since the ban in March 2001 we have kept in close contact initially with Lord Carlisle of Berriew CBE QC who held the position of terror watchdog for nine years and David Anderson QC for the last six years. As leading lawyers familiar with the politics they have understood and sympathised with our position.”

Gurjeet Singh
National Press Secretary
Sikh Federation (UK)

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