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VII. Response of the U.K. and Canadian Authorities

We know that extortion is going on, but this is not a priority for the British government. When we look at what we need to concentrate our resources on, in terms of terrorist groups, we are focusing on Islamic groups.
—inspector with the London Metropolitan Police114

Only two of the individuals who spoke to Human Rights Watch about their experiences of being pressed for money had reported the incident to the police or other government authorities (see below). Many expressed fear that filing a complaint would only expose them further within the Tamil community, and result in further harassment, intimidation, or worse. One Toronto Tamil said:

People are afraid to come out [publicly] because the nuisance from police is much worse than from the Tigers. With the Tigers, if worst comes to worst, you have to pay $2,000. But if you talk to the police, they could come to your house at anytime. If police comes to the door, how do you explain that to your neighbors? I don’t want to be identified as an informant to the community. If police come to your door, you will be identified as an informant. You will be isolated, totally isolated from the community.115

The Toronto businessman against whose wife and children a threat was made when he refused to give Cdn$20,000 told Human Rights Watch that he had considered going to the police, but ultimately changed his mind, fearing that reporting the incident could bring retaliation from the LTTE. He said, “If they [the police] do a big action to get the guys, then I can help them. But they need to support me, protect me. If they investigate and nothing happens, it’s not good for me.” 116

An inspector with the Metropolitan Police in London indicated that the reluctance of individual Tamils to make reports limited the police’s ability to respond. “All we do is get one or two members of the Tamil community [to give us intelligence], but all of the victims without exception are too intimidated to make reports, so what we end up with is intelligence without solid evidence.”117

The inspector stated that if reports were made, the police would investigate the allegations and launch an operation against those responsible. However, both of the London Tamils who told Human Rights Watch that they had called the police regarding LTTE visits said that they felt that their complaints were not taken seriously. One Tamil living in the London area reported that in December 2005, the LTTE telephoned him to tell him that they would come to his home that evening to collect funds for the LTTE. The man said that he then called the police and asked them to come to his house. He said, “I told them that they [the LTTE] are going to ask for money and I won’t give it. There may be trouble.” He said the police informed him that if the LTTE had not made direct threats to his life or safety, they would not send officers to his house.118

In another case documented by Human Rights Watch, a Tamil living in London called the police after being visited twice by men demanding money for the LTTE. When the police arrived at the man’s house, the man said he gave them the license number of the visitors’ car and pointed out the house where the men had gone after leaving his home. He said the police told him that they would take the details of the incident but that there was “no evidence” of an offense.119

One Tamil living in London said, “There is general apathy about the police at the moment that they do not take up matters complained to them seriously. . . . The police must create awareness among their forces that there are serious problems existing and they must be directed appropriately to deal with the issues.”120

The inspector with the Metropolitan Police acknowledged that, generally, the police force has done little to respond to extortion by the LTTE. He also indicated that the lack of attention may be due to political considerations:

A few years ago, there seemed to be a policy to deliberately ignore what was going on. At the time, the U.K. was trying to support the peace agreement [between the Sri Lankan government and the LTTE], and did not want to upset the LTTE. So the Met [Metropolitan Police] was getting information and intelligence, and the Special Branch, which deals with terrorism, was denying what was going on.121

In Canada, the Tamil community forms a powerful voting bloc, and many members of Parliament from ridings (electoral districts) in the Toronto area are dependent on Tamil votes. Some Canadian Tamils suggest that as a result, many members of parliament are reluctant to address LTTE intimidation. One Toronto activist told Human Rights Watch, “Vocally denouncing or acknowledging LTTE activity would be politically costly. The lack of political will is [also] due to the fact that LTTE extortion is seen as a Tamil problem, and not a Canadian one.”122

A detective inspector with the intelligence section of the Toronto Police confirmed the difficulty of getting formal complaints. “The trick is to have people with information that we can pursue far enough to create a criminal investigation.” He identified a major challenge for the police force as establishing trust and rapport with the Tamil community: “We have to get their trust. . . . If we can get enough victims to create a bigger pool of complainants, they will not feel as vulnerable.”123

When asked if the Toronto police were involved in any current investigations of extortion within the Tamil community, the detective inspector indicated he was not at liberty to provide such information.124 However, none of the members of the Tamil community in Toronto who spoke with Human Rights Watch seemed aware of any inquiries made into the issue by either police or other government authorities.

A Tamil in London told Human Rights Watch that the police should be investigating the fundraising activity. “The LTTE is collecting money in broad daylight. Under the Terrorism Act, it is unlawful to support any terrorist organization, and the LTTE is proscribed as a terrorist organization in the U.K.”125

In Toronto, one Tamil commented, “If the police really wanted to stop them, they could. They only have to follow the WTM [World Tamil Movement] employees. I have a few license plate numbers of people who do the fundraising. If I can get them, the police can get them.”126

Another individual expressed skepticism that the police understood the situation well enough to be able to investigate effectively. When visited by representatives of the World Tamil Movement, he was able to take the license plate number of the visitors. But he said, “The police don’t know how to handle the situation. If I approach them, they will say, ‘Okay, we will charge this fellow who owns this car.’ But if they do that, then the crank phone calls will start and my family life will be shattered. I will lose my peace of mind.” He said that rather than pursue individual complaints, the police should undertake broader investigations into the fundraising activity of the LTTE and World Tamil Movement.127

Tamils in London also said that the police should undertake more systematic investigations. One told Human Rights Watch,

The problem is that the police are not making efforts at a national/metropolitan level to deal with the problem. The efforts made so far are by individual officers in one specific police station. These types of efforts are temporary as transfers and promotions of police officers frustrate continuity of their individual efforts. What we need is a major government level decision. The government is more pre-occupied with Islamic extremism and they have not channeled resources to deal with the proscribed LTTE activities. But the government is fully aware of the situation facing the Tamils.128

According to a detective inspector with the intelligence unit of the Toronto police, Canadian court cases linking the LTTE to terrorist activity make fundraising for the LTTE a matter of national security, and it falls under the jurisdiction of the Integrated National Security Enforcement Team (INSET), a joint initiative that is administered by the Royal Canadian Mounted Police and involves the police, customs and immigration, the police intelligence unit, and others.129

Incidents of violence or abduction, not surprisingly, have received greater attention from law enforcement. For example, both Jayadevan, the U.K. resident who was detained at length by the LTTE in northern Sri Lanka, and Loganathan, who was severely beaten in Germany, expressed general satisfaction with the subsequent investigations by the U.K. and German authorities.

The Loganathan case offers a particularly useful model for police response. Although authorities were unable to identify the perpetrators responsible for Loganathan’s beating, they made efforts to prevent additional incidents by seeking out individuals known to be collecting funds for the LTTE in the Tamil community, and by communicating a clear message that the authorities were gravely concerned and that any future incidents would be treated as extremely serious.130

[114] Human Rights Watch telephone interview, London, U.K., December 14, 2005.

[115] Human Rights Watch telephone interview, Toronto, Canada, January 22, 2006.

[116] Human Rights Watch interview, Toronto, Canada, January 2006.

[117] Human Rights Watch telephone interview with Inspector Philip Perry, Metropolitan Police, London, U.K. December 14, 2005.

[118] Human Rights Watch interview, London, U.K., February 2006.

[119] Human Rights Watch telephone interview, London, U.K., January 2006.

[120] E-mail communication to Human Rights Watch, February 11, 2005.

[121] Human Rights Watch telephone interview with Inspector Philip Perry, Metropolitan Police, London, U.K. December 14, 2005.

[122] E-mail communication to Human Rights Watch, February 2006.

[123] Human Rights Watch telephone interview with Detective Inspector Steve Irwin, Intelligence Services, Toronto Police, January 19, 2006.

[124] Ibid.

[125] Human Rights Watch interview, London, U.K., December 2005.

[126] Human Rights Watch interview, Toronto, Canada, January 2006.

[127] Human Rights Watch telephone interview, Toronto, Canada, January 2006.

[128] E-mail communication to Human Rights Watch, February 2006.

[129] Human Rights Watch telephone interview with Detective Inspector Steve Irwin, Intelligence Services, Toronto Police, January 19, 2006

[130] Human Rights Watch interview, Dusseldorf, Germany, January 23, 2006.

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