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EU asks Lanka to guaratee freedom for functioning of NGOs

Press Trust of India  |  Colombo 

The European Union today asked Sri Lanka to guarantee the freedom for functioning of NGOs, days after the government imposed restrictions on their activities.

A statement from the EU of Sri Lanka said they were very concerned about the recent efforts to restrict legitimate public activities of civil society and non-governmental organisations in Sri Lanka.

"We urge the Sri Lankan authorities to respect the right of every individual to exercise their freedom of expression, opinion, association and assembly and to take part in the public affairs without undue interference," the statement said.

The EU concern was over a government regulation earlier this month which made all NGOs and INGOs to register with the Ministry of Defence and barred them from holding media events.

Later a Finance Ministry circular mandated all NGOs to see prior approval for their projects in order to obtain foreign funding.

The EU said it was asking the authorities to create a safe and enabling environment in which civil society can operate free from hindrance and insecurity.

"An independent, diverse and pluralistic civil society is indispensable for building peaceful, prosperous and democratic societies", the statement said.

The military spokesman Brigadier Ruwan Wanigasuriya had denied the new regulations stating that it did not mean anything new.

The law has been applicable since the 1980's and he said some NGOs have been found to be working against national interests he charged.

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First Published: Wed, July 23 2014. 17:56 IST