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UK decides to lift ban on pro-Khalistan Sikh group ISYF

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Britain: Set to lift a 15-year-old ban on a pro-Khalistan militant group after a debate, the House of Commons in Britain concluded that “sufficient evidence” does not currently exist to link it to terrorism.

The International Sikh Youth Federation (ISYF), established in the 1980s in militancy-wracked Punjab, was involved in “assassinations, bombings and kidnappings, mainly directed against Indian officials and interests”, the British Parliament heard this week.

However, the debate entitled ‘Prevention and Suppression of Terrorism’ on Tuesday night concluded that “there is not sufficient evidence to support a reasonable belief” that the ISYF is currently concerned with terrorism.

It therefore approved the draft Terrorism Act 2000 (Proscribed Organisations) (Amendment) Order 2016, which was laid before the House of Commons on February 22 and will be formally passed on Friday.

“The decision to de-proscribe the ISYF was taken after extensive consideration and in the light of a full assessment of all the available information,” UK minister for security John Hayes told the Commons.

He was questioned by Labour’s shadow home secretary Andy Burnham whether the ban had been maintained since 2001 “because of pressure from the Indian government”, something Hayes denied “without equivocation, hesitation or obfuscation”.

Labour’s longest serving Indian-origin MP Keith Vaz welcomed the government’s decision, saying, “At every meeting that I have attended to do with the Sikh community, members of the community ask about the issue and feel that they have been discriminated against.

“There are 450,000 Sikhs living in the United Kingdom, and about 150 gurdwaras in the UK. Even though it is one organisation, because it has the word ‘Sikh’ in its name, it affects other parts of the diaspora,” he said.

He also called for a review of the ban in place against the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE).

The ban on the ISYF in the UK came in force in March 2001, which led to the organisation being banned in India in December that year and in Canada in July 2003.

The Sikh Federation (UK) had applied for the ban to be lifted last year, followed by a legal challenge against UK home secretary Theresa May for refusing to lift the ban.

The Proscribed Organisations Appeal Commission (POAC) had sought further reasons for May’s refusal to lift the ban but the UK government decided instead not to further contest the ban and moved the order for parliamentary approval on February 22 this year.

Sikh Federation chair Bhai Amrik Singh said “The Home Secretary has shown courage in making this decision despite the inevitable pressure from the Indian authorities and so close after the attacks in Paris (last November). However, this also shows there was no case against the ISYF that would stand up to legal scrutiny”.

Britain’s decision to lift the ban will be formally notified to the UN and the European Council once agreed in Parliament at the end of the week.

(The article was first published in ddpunjabstarnews.com)

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  • Shriya Katoch

    it is great to see that such unfair bans have been lifted

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UN Secretary General Guterres Suggests Multilaterism To Deal With Global Challenges

Reform of the UN has a crucial contribution to make, and I look forward to continuing to press ahead across the pillars of that effort.

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UN Secretary-General António Guterres'
UN Secretary-General António Guterres' press conference with the national and international press to present the results of his visit to Mali and to answer the many questions of journalists.

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres has called for a reformed, reinvigorated and strengthened multilateral system to deal with today’s global challenges.

“Toward that end, we need a stronger commitment to a rules-based order, with the UN at its center, with the different institutions and treaties that bring the (UN) Charter to life,” Guterres told an open debate of the Security Council on strengthening multilateralism and the role of the UN.

“But it is not enough to have laws and international conventions, vital as they are. We need new forms of cooperation with other international and regional organisations — a networked multilateralism. And we need closer links with civil society and other stakeholders — an inclusive multilateralism,” Xinhua reported on Friday.

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres
UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres. Wikimedia

The world is facing many challenges. But at the same time, trust is on the decline, within and among nations. People are losing faith in political establishments, national and global. Key assumptions have been upended, key endeavours undermined, and key institutions undercut, he said.

“This is a time of multiplying conflicts, advancing climate change, deepening inequality and rising tensions over trade. It is a period when people are moving across borders in unprecedented numbers in search of safety or opportunity. We are still wrestling with the risk of the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, and only beginning to reckon with the potential dangers of new technologies.”

There is anxiety, uncertainty and unpredictability across the world, he said. “It often seems that the more global the threat, the less able we are to cooperate. This is very dangerous in the face of today’s challenges, for which global approaches are essential.”

United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres
FILE – United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres give a statement after delivering a speech in Geneva, May 24, 2018

Multilateralism is nothing more than countries coming together, respecting one another, and establishing the forms of cooperation that guarantee peace and prosperity for all in a healthy planet, he explained.

“As 21st century challenges threaten to outpace 20th century institutions and mindsets, let us reaffirm the ideals of collective action while pursuing a new generation of approaches and architecture capable of responding,” he said.

Guterres stressed the necessity to stick to the UN Charter.

Also Read: Earth’s Ozone Layer Is Healing: UN

“Reform of the UN has a crucial contribution to make, and I look forward to continuing to press ahead across the pillars of that effort. But most of all it is our resilient and still visionary UN Charter that points the way — with its articulation of universal values, its grounding in peace, development, human rights and the rule of law, and its vision of countries living as good neighbors and sharing a common fate and future,” he said.

“Strengthening multilateralism means strengthening our commitment to the charter. Such a commitment is needed now more than ever — from all around this table, and around our world,” he added. (IANS)