On Monday 11 January 2016 Rt. Hon. Fiona Mactaggart, Member of Parliament for Slough, joined John Spellar MP and a number of other Members of Parliament to press Foreign Office Minister David Lidington MP about the safety of Mr Paramjeet Singh, who has lived in the UK since 2000 and has been recognised as a refugee. His wife and four children are British citizens.
Mr Singh and his family travelled to Portugal on holiday on 18 December 2015 but he was stopped and detained on the grounds that the Indian government had requested his extradition. His Portuguese court case has been adjourned twice and is now re-fixed for 26 January 2016. He denies the charges against him but has been forced to remain in custody in Portugal while the case continues.
Fiona Mactaggart pressed the Minister to properly protect Mr Singh. She said: “There should be an EU wide agreement on extradition – that if a foreign government seeks to extradite a person granted refugee status, the request should be made to the country where the person lives, not to a country he has just entered on holiday. The country which granted the person protection will have more information about him, and will have investigated any criminal allegations before granting refugee status. The refugee should be able to challenge extradition from his home, and should not be disadvantaged by having to fight the case in an unfamiliar country and language.
“There should be an agreement between all EU member states to ensure that people granted protection by one state should only have that threatened in that state. The Indian authorities are clearly choosing Portugal as the forum for this claim because the Portuguese authorities have accepted Indian promises in an earlier case, which India has broken. Britain must protest in the strongest possible terms to both Portugal and India about this abuse of process.”
David Lidington MP listened to representations and will be responding to the MPs involved.
John Spellar MP, Paramjeet Singh’s constituency MP, referred to the meeting in Parliament on 12 January, col. 684 Hansard, at http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm201516/cmhansrd/cm160112/debtext/160112-0001.htm#16011271000004
Mr John Spellar (Warley) (Lab):
May I, through the Secretary of State, thank the Europe Minister for meeting an MPs’ delegation yesterday on the plight in Portugal of Paramjeet Singh, and for his efforts to date? As the case in Portugal moves to the political, ministerial stage, will the Foreign Secretary say how our Government hope to take the matter forward?
We are following the case closely and we have already made the Portuguese authorities aware of Mr Singh’s asylum status in the UK. India has not yet presented Portugal with a formal request for extradition, and as such we are not aware of the full details of the charges that he faces in India. We will continue to monitor Mr Singh’s case and will make a decision on further action when all the facts are available. Ultimately, however, it is the Portuguese authorities that have jurisdiction in Mr Singh’s case and will decide whether or not to extradite him to India.