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Tuesday, 22 May 2001
Page: 26751

Mr Murphy asked the Minister for Foreign Affairs, upon notice, on 28 February 2001:

(1) Is he able to say whether the British Government intends to proscribe the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) under the Anti-Terrorism Act 2000.

(2) Is he able to define the criteria upon which an organisation under this Act is so proscribed.

(3) Is he able to identify the rights upon which an organisation so proscribed may appeal such a decision; if so (a) what are those rights and (b) what is the procedure to be taken.

(4) Is he able to identify the grounds upon which the LTTE have been nominated under the Act to be a proscribed organisation.

(5) What is the Australian Government's declared position in relation to the LTTE.

Mr Downer (Minister for Foreign Affairs) —The answer to the honourable member's question is as follows:

(1) Yes. The Home Secretary, Jack Straw, provided a parliamentary answer on 28 February which laid a draft order under section 123 (4) of the Terrorism Act 2000 recommending to Parliament that the LTTE and 20 other organisations be added to the list of proscribed organisations in schedule 2 of the Terrorism Act. The draft order is subject to the affirmative resolution procedure of the British Parliament. There will therefore be debate in both houses on the Home Secretary's recommendations. If approved by Parliament, the proscriptions will take effect on the day the Home Secretary signs the order. Proscription will make it illegal for proscribed organisations to meet, operate or carry out any activities in the UK.

(2) Yes. Under section 3 (3) (A) of the Act, the Home Secretary may by order add an organisation to schedule 2 where he believes that it is concerned with terrorism as defined in section 1 of the Act.

(3) Yes. Proscribed groups have a right of appeal. Firstly, they may appeal to the Home Secretary for de-proscription. Secondly, if that application is refused, they may appeal to the “Proscribed Organisations Appeal Commission”. This Commission has a special mandate to hear sensitive classified material. Such material will be protected by provisions which allow the advocates of the proscribed organisation to have access to it, but not the organisation or its members.

(4) Yes. The following is the publicly available text which UK parliamentarians have available to assist their consideration of the draft order to proscribe the LTTE. As such, it constitutes the grounds upon which the LTTE have been nominated under the Act to be a proscribed organisation.

“ Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE)

Aims: The LTTE is a terrorist group fighting for a separate Tamil state in the north and east of Sri Lanka.

History: The LTTE has been fighting since 1983. More than 60,000 people on all sides have been killed in the conflict.

Attacks: The LTTE have mounted both a military assault and a terrorist campaign, the latter mainly in Colombo. Attacks are mostly targeted against Sri Lankan military and leading politicians using suicide bombers. Attempts to assassinate the Sri Lankan President in late 1999 and early 2000 were attributed to the LTTE by the media and the Sri Lankan authorities.

Attacks on UK or Western interests: The LTTE has never targeted Western interests directly, though Westerners have been injured as a result of LTTE attacks in Sri Lanka. The LTTE's only attack outside Sri Lanka was the assassination of Rajiv Gandhi in 1991 in response to India's military support for Sri Lanka.

Representations/Activities in the UK: The LTTE's international secretariat is based in the UK and is responsible for the group's press releases. The UK is also a source of funds for the LTTE.”

(5) The Australian Government condemns and abhors the terrorist activities of the LTTE. The suicide bombing campaigns that the LTTE have launched, principally in Colombo, have not only aimed at assassinating Sri Lankan political and military figures, but also have been intended to cause the maximum amount of terror amongst the civilian population. While foreigners have not been the direct targets of LTTE attacks, on a number of occasions Australian citizens, including the staff of our High Commission in Colombo, have had narrow escapes from LTTE bombing attacks which have tended to be targeted at crowded public places. The LTTE gives no warning of its attacks and its explosive devices are designed to maximise death and injury.

In 1996 I said in Parliament that I would not meet with Tamil groups unless they first renounced the LTTE's use of terror in writing.