Sri Lanka to amend law on NGOs

The Sri Lankan Government is to amend the Act which deals with Non Governmental Organisations (NGO) with the objective to enable the concerned agencies to probe their activities and take appropriate action against them, Prime Minister Ratnasiri Wickramanayaka told the Daily Mirror online.

It quoted the Premier as saying that a Ministerial Committee appointed to propose amendments to the Act has already put forward a draft document which will be taken up for discussion and later implemented after the parliamentary election due on April 8.

“The draft document has already been sent to the Attorney General for his advice and it includes a proposal to give the government all the powers to take action against Non Governmental Organisations”, it said.

Further, Sri Lanka Prime Minister noted that several NGOs and International NGOs were found to have acted against the sovereignty of Sri Lanka in recent times but appropriate action cannot be taken against them as the existing laws under the NGO Act are weak.

The Website quoted the Additional Secretary of the Ministry of Internal Administration which deals with NGOs, R.D. Newton Perera as saying that the Government also wants to probe the financial accounts of several NGOs.

He told the Website that the government will seek to obtain details of the monthly expenditure of some NGOs as, according to him, most of the money obtained by some organisations is being used for their personal welfare and not the displaced people.

Last week Sri Lankan Foreign Affairs Minister Rohitha Bogollagama complained to two visiting envoys that some countries were channelling funds via INGOs and local Non-Governmental Organisations (NGOs) to destabilise democracy in the island-nation.

A statement by the Foreign Ministry quoted Mr. Bogollagama as saying, “An amazing amount of assets have been found by the same authorities and it is a proven fact now that these funds have reached Sri Lanka via some International INGOs and local NGOs. He expressed his highest dissatisfaction for channelling such funds to destabilise democracy in Sri Lanka.”

Though the Minister has not named any particular country, his remarks assume significance against the backdrop of the February 10 interview of Gothabaya Rajapaksa, Sri Lanka Defence Secretary, with the Singapore-based Straits Times where he had talked about the alleged coup plans of the former Army chief, retired General Sarath Fonseka.

“We are 100 per cent convinced that western countries with vested interests were backing him. Even the U.S., and countries like Norway, spent lots of money on his campaign.

“I have proof of the Norwegian government paying journalists to write against the government. They have vested interests and used to support the Tamil Tigers in various ways. They also supported Fonseka to try oust the President,” Mr. Gotabaya Rajapaksa had told the paper.

The missions of the U.S. and Norway here had strongly refuted the charges made by the Defence Secretary that they were involved in funding the election campaign of the former Army chief.

On February 19, a statement put out by the Foreign Affairs Ministry said the matter figured when the U.S. Ambassador Patricia Butenis met Mr. Bogollagama. It quoted him as telling the U.S. envoy that Colombo does not give any credence to the ‘palpable misinformation’ concerning alleged moves involving the U.S., aimed at undermining the leadership of President Rajapaksa.

Earlier in the week the Central Investigation Department had claimed to have recovered Sri Lankan Rs. 15 million and $ 5.5 lakh from a safe vault of a private bank in Colombo that belonged to mother of Dhanuna Tillekaratna. Mr. Tillekaratna is the son-in-law of the defeated common opposition consensus presidential candidate, Gen. Fonseka.

Separately, Sri Lanka Navy (SLN) here said that it has made arrangements to assist five thousand Sri Lankans and Indian pilgrims taking part in the St. Anthony's feast at the Kachchativu Island in the Northern waters.

As per Navy spokesman Athula Senarath the two-day feast concluded on Sunday. “Three thousand Indian pilgrims from Rameswaram are taking part in the feast.”

The Navy has made arrangements to provide the escorts for 22 Indian fishing trawlers and 12 Sri Lankan boats.

“The Indian pilgrims on fishing trawlers have been escorted to the Kachchativu Island by the Lankan Naval vessels from the Indo-Lanka maritime border. The Indian pilgrims are attending the Kachchativu feast along with the Catholic clergy from South India for the first time in seven years,” he said.

Around one-thousand pilgrims at the feast are locals and are mainly from the Jaffna peninsula.

The Catholic Church in Jaffna along with the parish in Delft coordinated with the Navy to look into the welfare of the pilgrims. The pilgrims were requested to bring their food items. The Sri Lankan Navy has also made arrangements to provide fresh water and sanitation facilities for the pilgrims who gather at Kachchativu where apart from the small shrine of St. Anthony, there are, a few shady trees in the island," Capt. Senarath said.

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Printable version | Aug 9, 2020 8:24:07 PM |

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