The National Secretariat for Non-Governmental Organization (NGOs), a body functioning under the Defence Ministry, has banned NGOs from holding news conferences, workshops and training of journalists and the issuance of media releases.
The decision was taken in the aftermath of the cancellation of workshops for Journalists organised by Transparency International recently. It drew widespread condemnation from various bodies and the opposition.
The NGO Secretariat, in a letter dated July 1 has requested all NGOs in the country to refrain from indulging in such activities.
Its Director D.M.S. Dissanayake in a letter said such activities carried out by the NGOs were beyond their mandate.
“It has been revealed that certain NGOs conduct news conferences, hold workshops, train journalists, and issue news releases, which is beyond their mandate. We reiterate that all NGOs should desist from such unauthorised activities with immediate effect,” he said in his letter.
When asked for a comment on the decision, Mr. Dissanayake told Daily Mirror NGOs had only been asked not to exceed their mandate through this letter. He said his office examined all aspects such as the trustee of the NGO concerned, its funding sources, vision and mission, programme of work and the officials, before registering it.
He said intelligence reports were obtained about the officials when the NGOs applied for registration.
“We register the NGOs after all these aspects are cleared. NGOs are also required to submit their annual action plans to us for approval. We also get confirmation letters of their foreign funding agencies as well. However, we have received numerous complaints that some NGOs act in contravention of their mandate. In this letter, we have only asked 1,416 NGOs registered with us to stick to their mandate,” Mr. Dissanayake said. (Kelum Bandara)