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UA 251/93 - United Kingdom: fear of refoulement: Karamjit Singh Chahal

, Index number: EUR 45/009/1993

Karamjit Singh Chahal, a Sikh who has lived in the United Kingdom for the past 22 years is at imminent risk of being forcibly returned to India, where he would be at risk of torture, "disappearance" or extrajudicial execution. He has been an active supporter of demands for the creation of a separate Sikh state ("Khalistan") in Punjab, and claims that two of his close relatives have been shot dead by the Indian security forces, and that he himself was detained and tortured during a visit to India in 1984. He has been detained in the UK since August 1990 under the 1971 Immigration Act, pending applications for asylum and appeals against his deportation. If a final appeal fails, which was heard on 28-29 July by the Court of Appeal, he could be forcibly returned immediately.

EXTERNAL (for general distribution) AI Index: EUR 45/09/93
Distr: UA/SC
Please draw this action to the attention of the refugee coordinator in your section.
UA 251/93 Fear of refoulement 30 July 1993
UNITED KINGDOM: Karamjit Singh Chahal
Amnesty International is concerned that Karamjit Singh Chahal is at imminent risk
of being forcibly returned to India, where he would be at risk of torture,
"disappearance" or extrajudicial execution.
Karamjit Singh Chahal, a Sikh from India, has lived in the United Kingdom for the
past 22 years and has been a prominent political and religious figure in the Sikh
community since 1984. In particular, he has been an active supporter of demands for
the creation of a separate Sikh state ("Khalistan") in Punjab. Karamjit Singh Chahal
claims that two of his close relatives have been shot dead by the Indian security
forces and that he was himself detained and tortured during a visit to India in 1984.
On 16 August 1990 Karamjit Singh Chahal was arrested and detained under provisions
of the United Kingdom's 1971 Immigration Act, and was served notice of the British
authorities' decision to deport him to India "for reasons of national security and
other reasons of a political nature, namely the international fight against
terrorism". He immediately applied for asylum in the United Kingdom but this was
refused in March 1991.
Karamjit Singh Chahal has repeatedly denied any involvement in "terrorist" activity,
and has expressed a strong conviction that his detention and proposed deportation
is based on unfounded allegations made by political opponents within the Sikh
community. The deportation procedure being followed in his case does not require
the authorities to give specific reasons for the decision to deport, and Karamjit
Singh Chahal has therefore been unable to challenge effectively possible untruths,
inaccuracies or distortions in the information which the authorities are using as
a basis for their decision. Karamjit Singh Chahal has remained in administrative
detention since August 1990.
In December 1991 a legal challenge against the deportation order resulted in the
High Court ordering the authorities to re-examine Karamjit Singh Chahal's case. The
judge expressed "enormous anxiety" about the case, stressing the risk of torture
should Karamjit Singh Chahal be returned to India and questioning whether the
authorities had taken full account of Amnesty International's May 1991 report of
human rights violations against Sikhs in India (India: Human Rights Violations in
Punjab, AI Index: ASA 20/11/91).
As a result of this ruling the authorities reconsidered Karamjit Singh Chahal's
application for asylum, but in June 1992 refused the application for a second time.
In February 1993 a further legal challenge to this decision was rejected by the High
Court, which ruled that the authorities had acted within their powers when ordering
Karamjit Singh Chahal's deportation on grounds of national security.
An appeal against this ruling was heard by the Court of Appeal on 28-29 July 1993;
the decision is pending. Amnesty International fears that, in the event that this
appeal is unsuccessful, then Karamjit Singh Chahal could be forcibly returned to
India immediately.
BACKGROUND INFORMATION Page 2 of UA 251/93
Since 1983 thousands of suspected members and supporters of Sikh opposition groups advocating
the creation of a separate Sikh state ("Khalistan") in Punjab have been arrested by the
Indian security forces and detained under special legislation suspending normal legal
safeguards. In many cases the arrest of the detainee has remained unacknowledged for weeks
or months, and there have been numerous reports of torture during interrogation. Scores
of those so arrested have been tortured to death or have otherwise been deliberately and
unlawfully killed in custody (although official reports sometimes say they died in
"encounters" with the police or while "trying to escape"), while others have simply
"disappeared", the security forces refusing to acknowledge that they had ever been arrested.
Under the international principle of non-refoulement, which is set out in Article 33 of
the 1951 United Nations Convention relating to the Status of Refugees and reflected in
several subsequent Human Rights instruments such as Article 3 of the United Nations
Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment
(CAT) governments are obliged not to return any person to a country where he or she would
be at risk of serious human rights violations. In particular, Article 3 of the CAT states:
"No State Party shall expel, return ('refouler') or extradite a person to another State
where there are substantial grounds for believing that he would be in danger of being
subjected to torture".
Amnesty International is concerned that, by returning Karamjit Singh Chahal to India, the
British authorities would act in breach of this obligation.
RECOMMENDED ACTION: Please send telegrams/faxes/express and airmail letters in English
or your own language:
- urging the British authorities not to forcibly return Karamjit Singh Chahal to India,
where Amnesty International believes that he would be at risk of torture, "disappearance"
or extrajudicial execution on account of his political views and activities;
- reminding the British authorities of their obligation under international law not to
forcibly return anyone to a country where he or she would risk serious human rights
violations;
- expressing concern that Karamjit Singh Chahal has now been held in administrative detention
for almost three years, even though he has not been charged with any criminal offence;
- calling on the British authorities to release Karamjit Singh Chahal if he is not to be
charged with a recognizably criminal offence and brought to trial in accordance with
international standards of fair trial.
APPEALS TO:
1) The Rt Hon John Major, MP Salutation: Dear Prime Minister
Prime Minister
10 Downing Street
London SW1
United Kingdom
Telegrams: Prime Minister Major, London, United Kingdom
Faxes: + 44 71 270 3000 (this is not a dedicated fax line and so you will need to
ask for the fax machine to be switched on)
2) The Rt Hon Michael Howard, QC, MP Salutation: Dear Secretary of State
Secretary of State for the Home Department
Home Office
50 Queen Anne's Gate
London SW1H 9AT
United Kingdom
Telegrams: Home Secretary Howard, London, United Kingdom
Faxes: + 44 71 273 3596
COPIES OF YOUR APPEALS TO: diplomatic representatives of the United Kingdom accredited
to your country.
PLEASE SEND APPEALS IMMEDIATELY. Check with the International Secretariat, or your section
office, if sending appeals after 10 September 1993.

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