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1947-2014 (Archived)
Jun 17, 2004
WASHINGTON: A Sikh community group says it will challenge any effort by the Indian government to get diplomatic immunity for urban development minister Kamal Nath for his alleged role in the 1984 anti-Sikh riots.

The issue of diplomatic immunity is decided by the court and the US Department of State can only give its recommendation, according to Gurpatwant Singh Pannun, legal advisor to Sikhs For Justice (SFJ), a US based human rights advocacy group, which filed a civil suit against Kamal Nath last April.

If diplomatic immunity is granted to Kamal Nath, plaintiffs will challenge it in the highest court of the US and will also lodge petitions and complaints before the UN Human Rights Commission with regard to India's open practice of impunity, he said Thursday.

The US is still reviewing whether Kamal Nath, who has been summoned by a New York court for his alleged role in the1984 anti-Sikh riots, can be given diplomatic immunity, State Department spokesperson Philip J. Crowley told reporters Monday.

"The immunity question remains under review here at the State Department, and we have not made any determination at this point," he said.

Kamal Nath has been summoned Feb 9 by New York's Southern district court for a pre-trial conference, according to Pannun.

In April 2010, SFJ along with two individuals filed a law suit against Kamal Nath in US District Court under Alien Tort Claims Act (ATCA) & Torture Victim Protection Act (TVPA) asking the Court to order compensatory and punitive damages against Kamal Nath.

"Alien Tort Claims Act, the law under which the trial against Kamal Nath will be held, is specifically created to provide remedy and forum to victims of genocide to vindicate their complaints," Pannun said.

"The trial against Kamal Nath is one such opportunity through which SFJ plans to put on the record of the court evidence related to genocide of Sikhs and Kamal Nath's role in it."

Plaintiffs have asked for a jury trial and will have the right to call upon survivors and experts on genocide as witnesses to prove that systematic killing of Sikhs in November 1984 was genocide as defined in Article 2 of the UN Convention on Genocide, he said.