Prohibition on Kirpans on UK Trains ?
May 7, 2006
Author/Source: Jaspreet Kaur, International Civil and Human Rights Advocacy, United Sikhs
London, UK (KP) - The British Police have been asked for a public assurance that Kirpan-wearing Sikhs will not be discriminated against as knife detectors are introduced at train stations. United Sikhs highlighted their concern last week in letters to the Metropolitan Police, the British Transport Police, the West Midlands Police and the Association of Chief Police Officers.
Under Operation Shield, knife detectors which have been used in London, Birmingham and Liverpool train stations since February, will eventually be used at all stations across the United Kingdom.
Whilst the Sikh community recognises and supports the campaign to promote and establish a safe society, the letters urge the Police to treat Kirpan-wearers fairly and respectfully. In the UK, Sikhs have a legal right to wear the Kirpan (one of their five Sikh articles of faith) by key legislation such as Section 139 (5) (b) and (c) of the Criminal Justice Act 1988, Article 13 of the Amsterdam Treaty, and Article 9 of the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR), the latter of which protects and allows individuals to practice and observe their chosen religion.
Kirpan-wearing Sikhs are requested to report their grievance and experience in dealing with the knife detectors. United Sikhs shall provide enforcement agencies with feedback from the community.
In the letter, United Sikhs has also requested the police to provide further information regarding:
1. All the courses of action that will be taken to ensure that Kirpan-wearing Sikhs are not discriminated against;
2. The procedures and policies implemented by the Police in relation to the knife detection methods and how they will affect the wearing of the Kirpan;
3. The awareness and training given to police officers regarding the Kirpan;
4. The guidance given to officers regarding searching Kirpan-wearing Sikhs.
United Sikhs stated that it eagerly awaits for responses to the issues raised within the letter and is confident an amicable arrangement can be reached.