THE LEGAL STATUS OF THE LTTE IN THE US
QUESTION: Is the LTTE banned in the USA?
ANSWER: No, the LTTE is not banned in the USA, but has been designated as one of thirty Foreign Terrorist Organizations.
QUESTION: What is the difference between a legal ban and the designation as a Foreign Terrorist Organization?
ANSWER: If it is legally banned, the LTTE cannot function in the USA. Designation as a Foreign Terrorist Organization has only limited legal consequences.
QUESTION: What are the legal consequences of the designation as a Foreign Terrorist Organization?
ANSWER: There are 3 legal consequences of designation as a Foreign Terrorist Organization, they are:
1. The Foreign Terrorist Organization’s funds will be frozen.
2. Members or Representatives of the Foreign Terrorist Organization can be denied entry to the USA.
3. Providing money to the Foreign Terrorist Organization is a criminal offense.
QUESTION: If LTTE members or representatives are denied entry to the USA how will it affect U.S. citizens?
ANSWER: U.S. citizens can be a member or representative of the LTTE and they will not be denied entry to the USA.
QUESTION: If LTTE members or representatives are denied entry to the USA are they eligible for political asylum in the USA?
ANSWER: LTTE members are eligible for political asylum. LTTE representatives will be granted asylum if they are qualified at the discretion of the Attorney General.
QUESTION: Who are not eligible for asylum?
ANSWER: Anyone who has engaged in “terrorist activity” or “persecution of others” is not eligible for asylum.
QUESTION: Is it legal to give money to the LTTE?
QUESTION: Is it legal to send money to our alma maters in the LTTE controlled area?
QUESTION: Is it legal to send money to our relatives in the LTTE controlled area?
QUESTION: Is it legal to give money to the TRO?
QUESTION: Is it legal to give money to the Ilankai Thamil sangam or World Tamil Coordinating Committee?
QUESTION: What can be sent to the LTTE?
ANSWER: Medicine and religious materials can be sent directly to the LTTE.
QUESTION: Is it legal to support the LTTE politically?
QUESTION: Is it legal to celebrate the LTTE’s ‘Hero’s Day’?
QUESTION: Is it legal to hoist the LTTE flag?
QUESTION: Is it legal to support a separate state for Tamils?
QUESTION: Is it legal to read, discuss and distribute the LTTE’s literature?
QUESTION: What happened to the LTTE’s legal challenge to the designation as a Foreign Terrorist Organization?
ANSWER: The Court said that the evidence that the LTTE was involved in terrorist activities cannot be considered as legal evidence in the Court of law. Whether LTTE is a de facto state or foreign organization and whether the LTTE threatens the USA’s national security or not are political matters, on which the Court cannot make a legal judgment.
QUESTION: Did the Court set aside the designation?
ANSWER: The Court said in essence that since it is a political decision involving foreign affairs, the Court will not interfere and let the designation stand.
QUESTION: What happened to the lawsuit brought by six human rights/civic organizations, including the Ilankai Thamil sangam and World Tamil Coordination Committee, challenging the ‘Constitutionality’ of the ‘Anti Terrorism Law’?
ANSWER: The Appeals Court said that giving money is not protected under the freedom of association guaranteed by the First Amendment of the Bill of Rights, but supporting the LTTE’s political aim is protected under the First Amendment.
QUESTION: Were either of the cases appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court?
ANSWER: The LTTE did not appeal to the Supreme Court. The Constitutional challenge mounted by Human Rights and civic organizations was appealed to the Supreme Court.
QUESTION: Did the Supreme Court take that case?
QUESTION: Why did the Supreme Court decline to take the case?
ANSWER: The Supreme Court has complete discretion in deciding whether to take a case or not. Each year the Supreme Court receives thousands of cases from which it selects only 75 or so due to constraints on its time and resources.
QUESTION: What does the Supreme Court’s refusal to take the case mean?
ANSWER: The Supreme Court’s decision not to take the case simply means that the Appeals Court decisions stands unreviewed, until another case comes along. The Supreme Court’s decision does not signify either its approval or disapproval of the merits of the Appeal Court’s decision.
QUESTION: What is the current status of the law?
ANSWER: Providing money to the LTTE is prohibited. The U.S. Government cannot take any legal action against the members of the Ilankai Thamil Sangam, World Tamil Coordinating Committee and the other plaintiffs for supporting the LTTE politically.
QUESTION: What purpose do the lawsuits serve?
ANSWER: I) The lawsuits have demonstrated that the designation was a political decision.
II) The lawsuits have cleared the ambiguities in the law.
III) The lawsuits have clearly established that supporting the LTTE politically is protected under the First Amendment and is legal.
QUESTION: Is this the final legal conclusion?
ANSWER: No. If the U.S. Government brings any prosecution under the law for providing money to the designated organizations the constitutionality of the law will again be reviewed by the Courts and many lawyers feel that the Court will declare the law as unconstitutional. Or if the State Department removes the LTTE from the list then providing money to the LTTE will be legal.