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Portuguese authorities accused of illegal detention of Sikh man from Britain based on faulty Interpol Red Notice: Sikh Federation UK

January 19, 2016 | By

London (Jan. 15, 2016): In May 2015 INTERPOL announced a new policy relating to recognised refugees, responding to calls for reform led by Fair Trials International and the Open Dialogue Foundation. INTERPOL therefore has a policy of removing Red Notices of individuals who have been verified to be refugees.

According to INTERPOL guidelines a Red Notice should be removed if the status of the refugee has been confirmed and the notice has been requested by the country where the individual fears prosecution.

The reasons for the granting of the refugee status are also critical to INTERPOL. In this case the authorities in the UK concluded 15 years ago when granting asylum to Paramjeet Singh that if he was to return to India there was a genuine risk he would be tortured, subject to degrading treatment and possible death.

INTERPOL advises that the objective of the new policy is to provide “adequate and effective safeguards to protect the rights of refugees as guaranteed under the 1951 Convention”. It is now deemed a misuse of the INTERPOL red notice system if countries use it to seek extradition against those it knows have been granted asylum.

Bhai Amrik Singh, Chair of the Sikh Federation (UK) said: “As far as we are concerned it is clear the INTERPOL Red Notice is not valid against Paramjeet Singh according to INTERPOL’s new policy and guidelines announced in May 2015.”

Paramjit Singh Pamma in custody of Portugal authorities

Paramjit Singh Pamma in custody of Portugal authorities

“Earlier this week the British Foreign Secretary, Philip Hammond, speaking in Parliament told Members of Parliament ‘we have already made the Portuguese authorities aware of Mr Singh’s asylum status in the UK’. The Portuguese authorities therefore have no basis for detaining Paramjeet Singh on the basis of a faulty Red Notice.”

Yesterday Indian External Affairs Spokesperson Vikas Swarup replying to a specific question by journalists in Delhi on seeking the extradition of Paramjeet Singh made reference to the INTERPOL Red Notice and said: “He was detained by authorities in Portugal on December 18, 2015 based on these Red Corner alert.”

Narendra Modi handed David Cameron a dossier on 12 November 2015 when he visited the UK requesting action against Sikh Gurdwaras, organisations, TV channels and activists. The Indian media reported the dossier included the name of Paramjeet Singh. Modi then met INTERPOL Secretary General Jürgen Stock on 18 November 2015 and requested cooperation between INTERPOL and Indian investigative agencies for the purposes of extradition.

Bhai Amrik Singh, the Chair of the Sikh Federation (UK)

Bhai Amrik Singh Gill, the Chair of the Sikh Federation (UK) [File Photo]

Bhai Amrik Singh, Chair of the Sikh Federation (UK) said: “We smell a rat. The Indian authorities know Paramjeet Singh was granted asylum in the UK 15 years ago and the INTERPOL Red Notices are no longer valid for refugees. What this exposes is Narendra Modi is using underhand and illegal tactics to pressure the Portuguese and British authorities. What will become clear in the coming days and weeks is will INTERPOL, the Portuguese and British establishment respect human rights and stand up to the corrupt Indian authorities that clearly do not respect the human rights of minorities.”

Paramjeet Singh’s local MP John Spellar this morning received a letter from the Europe Minister, David Lidington to explain the UK position (see attached). The letter is surprising in that it refers to an international arrest warrant. Outside the European Arrest Warrant Scheme, there is no such thing as an international arrest warrant.

The closest thing available is an INTERPOL ‘Red Notice’ through which States seek the arrest or provisional arrest of wanted persons overseas, with a view to extradition. An INTERPOL Red Notice is not an international arrest warrant, but merely a means of streamlining co-operation between INTERPOL member countries.

Sikh Federation (UK) chairman said: “In this case, as Paramjeet Singh is a refugee and been granted asylum by the UK the Red Corner Notice is invalid. Surprisingly this seems to be lost on the British and Portuguese authorities”


LETTER by David Lidington, MP:


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