Defence Ministry issues statement saying NGOs are acting beyond their mandate

Defence Ministry issues statement saying NGOs are acting beyond their mandate

Defence Ministry issues statement saying NGOs are acting beyond their mandate

Written by Staff Writer

08 Jul, 2014 | 7:54 pm

D.M.S. Dissanayake, director registrar of the National Secretariat for Non-Governmental Organisations attached to the Ministry of Defence and Urban Development, issued a statement to all NGOs in the country.

The statement, bearing the signature of D.M.S. Dissanayake and dated July 7, issued to all NGOs reads as follows:

“It has been revealed that certain non-governmental organisations conduct press conferences, workshops, training for journalists and dissemination of press releases, which is beyond their mandate. We reiterate that all non-governmental organisations, should prevent from such unauthorised activities with immediate effect”.

During a media briefing held Tuesday, a journalist questioned Brigadier Ruwan Wanigasooriya, director of the Media Centre of the Ministry of Defence and Urban Development, who responded.

“This decision was taken in keeping with laws that were enacted to govern non-governmental organisations in 1980, 1998 and 1999. There are 1,416 non-governmental organisations operating in Sri Lanka. The director of the National Secretariat for Non-governmental organisations, issued a statement yesterday. Urging NGOs to work under this framework. It is not an act to restrict freedom of speech or restrict their activities. This should be clearly understood he added.”

Meanwhile, the Lawyers Collective issuing a media release says that the Ministry of Defense is acting beyond its mandate by trying to control the legitimate activities of non-government organizations.

The media release by the Conveners of the Lawyers Collective J.C Weliamuna and Lal Wijenayaka reads that the Ministry of Defense does not enjoy any specific legal authority under any statute whatsoever to control freedom of speech and association of citizens who act collectively through civil society organizations.

It adds that it is clear from the press release issued by the Ministry that the ministry has acted beyond its mandate.

The media release goes on to say that all governments that respect democratic values, respect the rights of citizens to engage in such lawful activities and only authoritarian regimes prevent such democratic engagements.

The Lawyers Collective adds that if the Government of Sri Lanka is serious in preserving the democratic character of the country, it must respect its own constitutional freedoms such as freedom of expressions and association.

 

 

 

 

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