Skip to main content

Govt of India "tarnishing" NGO reputation, dossier leaked selectively: Amnesty

Counterview Desk
Amnesty International India has said that a deliberate attempt is being made to tarnish its reputation by leaking a dossier, supposedly made by investigating agencies, to media without giving it access to any such information. The high profile NGO’s claim follows a Times Now report about proceedings launched by investigative agencies, including Enforcement Directorate (ED) against the rights body for “violations” of rules pertaining to overseas donations.
Times Now report says, “ED dossier cites documents seized in raids on Amnesty office in Bengaluru as proof ‘beyond doubt’ that Amnesty is making false claims. Records of foreign funds, incriminating admissions on paper collecting during raids by ED on Amnesty pose difficult questions about the activities of the Human Rights group.”
It wonders, “Did Amnesty resort to secrecy to hide commercial contracts with foreign 'firms' to ‘create, initiate, expend and support’ movements in sensitive areas?”

Text of the Amnesty statement:

The latest leak of a dossier on Amnesty India by the Enforcement Directorate based on its ongoing investigations, indicates a deliberate attempt by the government to tarnish Amnesty India’s reputation. Amnesty India calls for an immediate end to this smear campaign and an independent inquiry into the selective leaks of information that are fueling this smear campaign.
“In the three weeks since we were raided by the Enforcement Directorate, no formal charges have been filed against us. So, it is really shocking to see media coverage of what is alleged to be documents from the investigation. If the authorities believe that Amnesty India has committed an offence, they must prove it in a court of law. However, the Enforcement Directorate seems to be leaking selective information and conducting a media trial,” said Aakar Patel of Amnesty India.
“It is alarming to see authorities resort to such low measures to discredit the work of an organization committed to upholding human rights. The latest action of leaking documents related to an ongoing investigation to a media house to tarnish Amnesty India’s reputation is deplorable. Such actions highlight a pattern of demonizing and criminalizing human rights defenders and organizations. The government seems afraid and viscerally opposed to anyone who is critical of its actions or policies,” said Aakar Patel.
On November 14, a prominent news channel ran two hour-long special shows on the Enforcement Directorate’s raids on Amnesty India. The anchors claimed to have accessed the entire dossier of investigations done by the investigating agency. They also showed visuals of the documents, including the investigation report, testimonies and bank documents that are a part of the investigations. It is important to note that Amnesty India has still not been given access to the dossier and has repeatedly been denied access to such information by the agency.
At one point, the anchor read from what is alleged to be a copy of the statement given by Aakar Patel, the Chief Executive Officer of Amnesty International India Private Limited and the Managing Trustee of Indians for Amnesty International Trust, to the Enforcement Directorate. This document was also flashed repeatedly during the show.
The Enforcement Directorate officials refused to provide a copy of said statement to Aakar Patel, when it was requested during the search and again on October 31 in the Enforcement Directorate’s office. They refused on the grounds that the copy is confidential and can only be shared after the charges are framed.
“Isn’t this a gross violation of natural justice where the person accused of a crime is not given full details? We have always respected the rule of law and have extended our full cooperation to the agency’s investigations. However, it seems like the government thinks it can abuse its power and run smear campaigns to fulfill its agenda of silencing anyone who questions power. The authorities should initiate an independent probe and bring to justice those who are responsible for this leak,” said Aakar Patel.
This is not the first time the investigating agency has leaked information about Amnesty India to the media. Ahead of the raids on 25 October, of which Amnesty India was not aware, the government authorities had leaked a cache of documents marked “secret” that cast Amnesty India’s operations in a dark web of intrigue. Within moments of the raid, a smear campaign was launched on social media and sections of the pro-government media that have long been opposed to the work being done by Amnesty India.
Background
On October 25, 2018, Amnesty India endured a ten-hour-long raid as a group of officers from the Enforcement Directorate, a financial investigation agency under the Ministry of Finance, entered the premises and locked the gates behind them. 
Some of the staff were ordered to not leave, shut their laptops and not use their mobile phones. Most of the documents asked for during the search were available in the public domain or were already filed with the relevant government authorities.
Details of our current structure, which was the focus of much of the questioning, have been available on our website since 2014. Following the raid, and despite operating in compliance with relevant national regulations, the accounts of Amnesty India have been frozen, effectively stopping our work. Simultaneously, the Ministry of Home Affairs has also initiated investigations into the funds received by Amnesty India.
The latest leak of a dossier on Amnesty India by the Enforcement Directorate based on its ongoing investigations, indicates a deliberate attempt by the government to tarnish Amnesty India’s reputation.

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.

Mental health: India's 95% patients "deprived" of medical care, treatment gap 70%

By Moin Qazi*
Among the many challenges India faces, the most underappreciated is the ongoing mental health crisis. Mental illness is actually India’s ticking bomb. An estimated 56 million Indians suffer from depression, and 38 million from anxiety disorders. For those who suffer from mental illness, life can seem like a terrible prison from which there is no hope of escape; they are left forlorn and abandoned, stigmatized, shunned and misunderstood.

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.

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.

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.

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.”