NHRC writes to Centre over foreign funding for NGOs

: Concerned about the rights of human rights defenders, the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC), on Wednesday, issued a notice to the Union Home Ministry on the government’s alleged “draconian approach” in renewing the foreign funding approval for NGOs.

The NHRC said that the government’s approach towards renewing Foreign Contribution Regulation Act (FCRA) licences for the NGOs that defend human rights had been brought to its notice.

This comes in the backdrop of the Home Ministry cancelling the FCRA licences of thousands of NGOs over not applying for renewal in time.

Suo motu cognisance

“Prima facie, it appears that the FCRA licence non-renewal is neither legal nor objective, and thereby impinging on the rights of the human rights defenders, both in access to funding, including foreign funding,” the NHRC observed.

Taking suo-motu cognisance, the NHRC directed the Home Secretary to provide details of the NGOs of human rights defenders whose licences had been cancelled, the number of such NGOs, the reason for non-renewal and the amount of foreign funds received in the past three years.

Six weeks’ time

The Commission directed the government to provide the information in six weeks so that it can start hearing the matter and look at “whether the review of the law [FCRA] can be recommended”.

The NHRC said that the Seventh Asian Human Rights Defender Forum in Sri Lanka, which started on Monday, had asked the Commission to intervene in the case of the Centre for Promotion of Social Concerns (CPSC).

In its notice to the Home Secretary, the NHRC also sought details about the non renewal of CPSC’s FCRA licence.

UN report cited

Citing the report of the United Nations Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Association and Assembly, the NHRC said that the analysis of the FCRA found that the Act was “not in conformity with international law, principles and standards” as access to foreign funding was a fundamental part of the right to freedom of association.

As per the report, the limitations on access to foreign funding would have to be prescribed by law; imposed solely to protect national security, public safety, public order etc.; and necessary for a democratic society.

Prima facie,

it appears that

the FCRA licence non-renewal is neither legal nor objective

Home Secretary asked to provide details of NGOs of human rights defenders whose licences were cancelled

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Printable version | Dec 5, 2021 6:14:48 PM |

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