The Court of Justice of the European Union has annulled the EU’s ban on the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam.
The ban was imposed in 2006. The Council of the EU claimed that the LTTE, which had waged an armed struggle for an independent Tamil homeland against the Sri Lankan state, was a terrorist organisation.
After its military defeat in May 2009, the LTTE no longer exists in its original form of an armed independence movement. However, the continued ban on the LTTE has restricted the peaceful political activities of Tamils campaigning for human rights and national self-determination.
Tamil lawyer Rajeev Sreetharan explained: “In many instances, even after May 2009, the proscription was utilised in European domestic security policy as a pretext to harass the European Tamil diaspora, incarcerating political leaders and activists, while placing ordinary Tamil citizens under surveillance, with a view to paralysing Tamil political mobilization on the continent.”
The Europe-based political wing of the LTTE launched a case to overturn the ban in 2011. The court issued its ruling on October 16.
The court did not make a decision on whether or not the LTTE is a terrorist group. Instead, it annulled the regulations banning the LTTE on procedural grounds. The EU had failed to follow proper procedure in deciding whether or not the LTTE was a terrorist group.
Hence, is still possible for the EU to make a new bid to ban the LTTE. Avoiding this possibility will require ongoing campaigning.
Taminet said on October 18 that Victor Koppe, a lawyer representing the LTTE in the case, commented: “It is a legal victory, but obviously it should also be won as a political victory”.