Skip to main content

Govt of India "cancels" foreign funding license of 25 NGOs sans valid reason: Amnesty, Human Rights Watch

By Our Representative
In a joint statement, Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International, two of the topmost human rights NGOs with global presence, have strongly reacted to the Government of India’s reported refusal to renew foreign funding licenses of 25 NGOs “without valid reasons.”
Pointing out that this “violates their rights to freedom of expression and association”, the statement said, “On November 5, 2016, media reports quoted unnamed officials from the Ministry of Home Affairs as saying that the NGOs were denied permission under the Foreign Contribution Regulation Act (FCRA), which regulates foreign funding for NGOs, because their activities are not in the national interest”.
“While the government has not published the list of affected groups, it appears to include several human rights organizations”, the statement points out, adding, “The ability to access foreign funding is integral to the rights to free association and expression, which can only be restricted under narrow specified grounds.”
The statement quotes Aakar Patel, Executive Director at Amnesty International India, as saying that “the Home Ministry’s decision to prevent NGOs from receiving foreign funding without sound justification is mystifying. The Ministry has an obligation to show how these restrictions are necessary and proportionate.”
The statement notes, “On October 29, the Centre for Promotion of Social Concerns, a prominent Indian human rights organization better known by its programme unit People’s Watch, said that its request for renewal of its foreign funding license under the FCRA had been denied.”
It adds, “The FCRA website said: ‘On the basis of field agency report, the competent authority has decided to refuse [People’s Watch’s] application for renewal.’ No other reasons were given.”
Earlier, on October 21, the Ministry of Home Affairs denied a request from the Indian Social Action Forum (INSAF), a network of NGOs and people’s movements, for renewal of its FCRA license “without providing any reasons”, the statement says.
“An email from the Ministry to INSAF merely said: ‘Your application… has been refused due to following reasons: Your application for renewal is refused.’ INSAF also had its FCRA license suspended in April 2013, but the Delhi High Court quashed the suspension in September that year.”
Then, the statement says, “On October 28, 2016, the Ministry of Home Affairs also sent a one-line email to the NGO Hazards Centre, a unit of the Sanchal Foundation, stating that their application for renewal had been denied ‘on the basis of field agency report’, adding, On November 3, the Ministry of Home Affairs said it had cancelled the FCRA licenses of 11,319 NGOs that had not applied for renewal of their licenses by the June 30 deadline.”
Pointing out that “the applications of another 1,736 NGOs were ‘closed due to non-submission of documents or deficient documents’, the statement says, “Successive governments have used the FCRA as a political tool to harass groups critical of government views and actions.”
Saying that in cases where organizations challenged the suspension of their FCRA, the courts have generally ruled in their favour, the statement says, “The courts have also repeatedly reminded the government that in a democracy, dissent should not be muzzled”, as it happened “in ruling for Greenpeace India activist Pillai, who had been prevented from traveling to London to raise concerns over a coal plant.”
The statement regrets, “Even as the authorities use the FCRA to tighten restrictions on nongovernmental groups, in March the government amended the law to retroactively legalize funding by foreign entities to political parties.”
Asking the Government of India “repeal the FCRA, or amend it so that it does not interfere with the rights to freedom of expression and association, and cannot be misused for political reasons”, the statement quotes Meenakshi Ganguly, South Asia Director at Human Rights Watch as saying, “While India is actively encouraging foreign investment in key industries, it is trying to deny funding for efforts to assist the most vulnerable and marginalized.”

Comments

TRENDING

World Bank clarifies: Its 26th rank to India not for universal access to power but for ease of doing business

By Our Representative
In a major embarrassment to the Government of India, the World Bank has reportedly clarified that it has not ranked India 26th out of 130 countries for providing power to its population. The top international banker’s clarification comes following Union Power Minister Piyush Goyal’s claim that India has “improved to 26 position from 99” in access to electricity in just one year.

Modi model? "Refusal" to build Narmada's micro canals, keep Kutch dry; help industry

By Medha Patkar*
This is the latest photograph of the Kutch Branch Canal (KBC) of the Sardar Sarovar, as of April 8! What does it show, expose, and what memories do you recall? Is it dry or dead? Is it a canal or a carcass of the same?

Bill Gates "promoting" GMO, Bt cotton, like cartels that have roots in Hitler's Germany

By Our Representative
World-renowned environmental leader and ecologist Dr Vandana Shiva has expressed concern that Bill Gates, founder of Microsoft Corporation, has joined the bandwagon of “a poison cartel of three" – Monsanto and Bayer, Syngenta and ChemChina, Dow and DuPont – all of whom allegedly have “roots in Hitler’s Germany and finding chemicals to kill people”.

Indian talc products contain "contaminated" asbestos structures, can cause cancer: Study

Counterview Desk
A recent study, using polarizing light microscopy, transmission electron microscopy (TEM), electron diffraction, and X-ray analysis on multiple over-the-counter Indian talc products for the presence of asbestos, has concluded that large quantities of body talc products are likely to pose a public health risk for asbestos-related diseases, especially for the cancers related to asbestos exposure.

Why are you silent on discrimination against Dalit jawans? Macwan questions Modi

By Rajiv Shah
Close on the heels of releasing his book in Gujarati, "Bhed Bharat", which lists 319 cases of atrocities against Dalits and Adivasis across the country over the last five years, well-known Gujarat Dalit rights leader Martin Macwan has shot an open letter to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, telling him the reasons why he does not want vote for the BJP.

Jharkhand Adivasi lynched to death by mob "chanting" Jai Shri Ram: Fact-finding team

Counterview Desk
On April 10, 2019, Prakash Lakda, a 50-year old Adivasi of Jurmu village of Gumla’s Dumri block, was lynched to death by a mob of men from the Sahu community of neighbouring Jairagi village. Three other victims from Jurmu – Peter Kerketta, Belarius Minj and Janerius Minj – sustained severe injuries due to the beating by the mob. A fact-finding team of Jharkhand Janadhikar Mahasabha (JJM), comprising of several activists and representatives of member organisations, conducted a fact-finding inquiry into the incident on April 14-15.

Investigation shows Narmada downstream "seriously" polluted. Reason: apathy, greed

By Rohit Prajapati, Krishnakant, Swati Desai*
Our investigation regarding quality of water flowing in the Narmada river downstream of the Sardar Sarovar Dam (SSD), dated April 6, 2019, between 11.00 a.m. to 4.00 p.m. reiterates, what is commonly known now, that the Sardar Sarovar Project (SSP) is planned without considering its impact on the downstream Narmada River stretch of 161 kilometres, its ecology, biodiversity and fishery, and lakhs of people living close to and dependent on the river directly or indirectly. This, in turn, has led to its present disastrous state.

Emergence of a rare Dalit teacher in IIT-Kanpur "disturbed" certain faculty members

By PS Krishnan, IAS (Retd)*
Dr Subrahmanyam Sadrela, a faculty member in the Department of Aerospace Engineering, Indian Institute of Technology (IIT)-Kanpur since January 1, 2018, and one of the rare Dalit members of the faculty in IIT group of institutions, is facing the threat of revocation of his PhD thesis, and thereby also jeopardizing his job and career.

RTE in remote areas? Govt of India "plans" to close down 2.4 lakh schools

By Srijita Majumder*
The Right to Education (RTE) Act, 2009, came into effect on April 1, 2010, for the first time made it obligatory on the part of the State to provide free and compulsory education to all children from 6-14 years of age in India. The Act, despite its limitations, had progressive elements like neighbourhood schools, community participation, ban on corporal punishment, no detention, continuous and comprehensive evaluation and it hence it appeared that India was not far from achieving universal elementary education.

Election Commission suffering from worst-ever "credibility crisis": Ex-bureaucrats

Counterview Desk
In an open letter to President Ram Nath Kovind, a group of ex-bureaucrats have lamented ‘weak-kneed’ responses of the Election Commission of India (ECI) in the run up to the 2019 Lok Sabha elections. Citing various violations of the model code of conduct, and pointing towards how ECI has taken little action, the letter asks the President to tell ECI to “conduct itself in a manner where its independence, fairness, impartiality and efficiency are not questioned.”