Skip to main content

UN report says India's foreign funding law being "arbitrarily" used against NGOs to silence criticism, is capricious

By Our Representative
In a strongly-worded critique of the efforts by the Government of India (GoI) to use Foreign Contributions Regulation Act (FCRA) against non-government organizations (NGOs), a United Nations (UN) report has said terms such as ‘political objectives,’ ‘political activities,’ or ‘political interests’ are being applied against NGOs “in an arbitrary and capricious manner”.
In a 17-page report submitted to the GoI, the UN Special Rapporteur on the rights to freedom of peaceful assembly and of association, Maina Kiai, has said that fault, in fact, lies with the “imprecise language” of the FCRA, enacted by the former UPA government in 2010.
Especially taking exception to the manner in which the Act defines ‘political nature’ in an “overly broad” manner, the report says, it “encompassing almost all potential activities of an organization”, which are allegedly “likely to affect prejudicially... the economic interest of the State” or “public interest”.
The report believes, “Restricting access to foreign funding for associations based on notions such as 'political nature', 'economic interest of the State' or 'public interest' ... create an unacceptable risk that the law could be used to silence any association involved in advocating political, economic, social, environmental or cultural priorities which differ from those espoused by the government of the day.”
Greenpeace India, a victim of FCRA in 2015
Pointing to now the law has been misused more recently, with “nearly 14,000 NGOs have seen their licenses to receive foreign funding revoked” by the GoI, the Special Rapporteur argues that the ability of civil society organizations to access resources, including foreign funding, is a “fundamental part of the right to freedom of association under international law, standards, and principles – and more particularly part of the right to form an association.”
Kiai asserts that India’s limitations on access to foreign funding do not meet “the stringent test for allowable restrictions” under international law.
This test, says the report, requires that restrictions be (1) prescribed by law; (2) imposed solely to protect national security or public safety, public order, public health or morals, or the rights and freedoms of others; and (3) “necessary in a democratic society.” It insists, “The FCRA fails on all three prongs of the test.”
Coming to the FCRA’s stated purpose of prohibiting “acceptance and utilization of foreign contribution or foreign hospitality for any activities detrimental to the national interest”, the Special Rapporteur underlines, “National interests and economic interests are not synonymous with national security or public order.”
“The Human Rights Committee has found that when a State invokes national security and protection of public order as a reason to restrict the right to freedom of association, the State party must prove the precise nature of the threat,” Kiai writes.
“Restrictions on the right to freedom of association based on national security concerns must refer to the specific risks posed by the association; it is not enough for the State to generally refer to the security situation in the specific area”, Kiai adds.
The Special Rapporteur further notes that a total ban on access to foreign funding for organizations found to be of a “political nature” or acting against economic or national interest is likely to “disproportionately impact certain groups.”
“Among these groups are those engaged in critical human rights work, those which address issues of government accountability and good governance, and those which represent vulnerable and minority populations or views”, the report underlines.
“Access to resources, including foreign funding, is a fundamental part of the right to freedom of association under international law, standards, and principles, and more particularly part of forming an association”, Kiai states.
---
Click HERE for report

Comments

TRENDING

Missed call drive for VVPAT verification follows online plea to "pressure" poll panel

By Our Representative
Several political activists have begun a new campaign, asking concerned citizens to give a missed call on 9667655855 to “support the demand that 2019 Loksabha elections must be declared only after verification of 50% electronic voting machines (EVMs) with Voter Verifiable Paper Audit Trail (VVPAT) receipts.” The effort, supported by civil society networks across India, is meant to "further pressure" India's election machinery to ensure that the poll outcome becomes more transparent.

Now, top Gujarat "litterateur" close to Modi says: Godse was patriot, so was Gandhi

By Rajiv Shah
A little over a week after Prime Minister Narendra Modi criticized BJP candidate from Bhopal Pragya Thakur for calling Nathuram Godse a patriot saying he would never forgive her for the remark, a top Sangh Parivar ideologue, known to close to Modi in Gujarat, has supported her, saying her statement should be seen “within a context.” Thakur won from Bhopal by more than 3.5 lakh votes defeating her nearest rival, veteran Congressman and ex-Madhya Pradesh chief minister Digvijay Singh.

Opposition refuses to legally challenge EVMs amidst plans of "back to ballot" protest

Counterview Desk
Even as opposition to the use of electronic voting machines (EVMs) allegedly to rig polls is growing, a group of prominent citizens who have come together to form the EVM Virodhi Rashtriya Jan Andolan has controversially called for a national protest against EVMs on May 30, demanding future elections should be held only on ballot paper.

When a Pak scribe said Modi has 'proved' Jinnah’s two nation theory right...

By Zafar Agha*
It was around nine in the morning on May 24, 2019, a day after Prime Minister Narendra Modi stormed the Lok Sabha with 300-plus MPs. It was a call from a journalist friend, Muzamal Suhrawardy, from Lahore, Pakistan. I ignored the call. We liberals had a depressing day the previous evening as the opposition to Modi and BJP collapsed. The results belied reports from the ground and even assessments made by colleagues.

It's now official: Akshay Kumar has not been conferred honorary Canadian citizenship

By Our Representative
It is now official. Super-star Akshay Kumar has not been conferred any honorary citizenship by Canadian authorities, as claimed by him ahead of the 2019 elections. In reply to a query by Roshan Shah, who is a Canadian citizen living in Waterloo, Ontario, and belongs to Ahmedabad, the country’s authorities dealing with issues related with immigration, refugees and citizenship in Canada have said that only six persons have so far been granted honorary citizenship.

Savarkar in Ahmedabad "declared support" to two-nation theory in 1937, followed by Jinnah three years later

By Our Representative
One of the top freedom fighters whom BJP and Prime Minister Narendra Modi revere the most, Vinayak Damodar Savarkar, was also a great supporter of the two nation theory for India, one for Hindus another for Muslims, claims a new expose on the man who is also known to be the original proponent of the concept of Hindutva.

If EC's credibility is under question, shouldn't one "assume" EVMs might be tampered?

Counterview Desk
Gauhar Raza, scientist, documentary film maker and poet; senior human rights activist Shabnam Hashmi of the Act Now for Harmony and Democracy (ANHAD); military veteran Major Priyadarshi Chowdhury (retd); and Sucheta De and Sandeep Saurav of the All India Students' Association (AISA), have asked “individuals, organisations and people's movements” to send their endorsement to an appeal they have prepared on Electronic Voting Machine (EVM).

Common thread of Modi, political Hinduism, nationalism? 'Contest' of ideas isn't over

By Salman Khurshid*
Losing the 2019 election and that too in a somewhat extreme manner has confronted us with unexpected challenges: Our leadership has naturally taken it very hard and to heart but with suggested options that we cannot imagine or contemplate. Hopefully the emotions will settle soon and give us the direction to pick up the pieces and march again.

Govt of India overestimated GDP by 2.5%, must restore reputational damage: Ex-CEA

By Rajiv Shah
Top economist Arvind Subramanian has said that changes brought about by the Government of India in data sources and methodology for estimating the country’s gross domestic product (GDP) since 2011-12 “has led to a significant overestimation of growth”. While official estimates place annual average GDP growth between 2011-12 and 2016-17 at about 7 percent, the actual growth may have been 4½ percent, ranging from 3 ½ to 5 ½ percent during the period, he adds.

Will minorities in India be 2nd class citizens? Wake up call: Be a 'communicating' Church

By Fr Cedric Prakash sj*
India today is at a defining moment of her history. There is so much that has taken place in the past five years (and particularly in the last ten days)- that several citizens of the country are genuinely concerned about the future of the country! Will democracy survive? Will key elements of the Constitution be changed?