From Jaising to Setalvad, Funding Law Exploited to Silence Critics
Three UN human rights experts have called on India to repeal a law restricting NGOs’ access to crucial foreign funding, saying its provisions are increasingly being used to “silence” groups that are critical of government’s policies.
The UN Special Rapporteurs Michel Forst, David Kay, and Maina Kiai, in their call to “repeal” the FCRA, said:
This development comes in the wake of the government banning funding to Teesta Setalavad’s NGO, which works for the cause of the victims of the 2002 Gujarat riots.
On 16 June, the Home Ministry issued an order saying that the central government has cancelled the permanent registration of Sabrang Trust, run by civil rights activist Teesta Stelvad and her husband Javed Anand, with immediate effect.
The three experts called on India to repeal the FCRA, which they say fails to comply with international human rights norms and standards.
Despite detailed evidence provided by Lawyers Collective to rebut all allegations and prove that all foreign contributions were spent and accounted for in line with FCRA, the suspension was still applied, the UN human rights experts said in a statement issued from the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights.
The experts noted that the NGO is known for its public interest litigation and advocacy in defence of the most vulnerable and marginalised members of Indian society.
The experts’ call comes as India’s Home Affairs Ministry suspended the registration of the non-governmental organisation Lawyers Collective for six months earlier in June under the FCRA.
The suspension was imposed on the basis of allegations that its founders, human rights lawyers Indira Jaising and Anand Grover, violated the act provisions by using foreign funding for purposes other than intended, the statement said.
The government had also suspended the registration of Greenpeace India under the FCRA for six months earlier in April 2015, it added.
(With agency inputs.)
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