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US ‘concerned’ about MoD circular restricting NGO activities

The US Department of State has expressed concern about the recent letter sent to non-governmental organisations in Sri Lanka, restricting the activities they could engage in.

“The United States is concerned by reports that the Sri Lankan Ministry of Defense has ordered registered Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs) and civil society groups to cease their media engagements and activities.” State Department spokesperson Jen Psaki said in a press statement.

“This order undermines Sri Lanka’s longstanding and proud democratic traditions, including freedom of speech and freedom of assembly. We strongly urge the Government of Sri Lanka to allow civil society organizations and NGOs, which play a vital role in supporting Sri Lanka’s democratic values, to operate freely,” she said.

The letter, signed by the director of the NGO Secretariat, which falls under the defence ministry, said that NGOs should not overstep their mandate by engaging in activities such as holding press conferences, workshops, training for journalists, and the publication of press releases.

Military denies attempts to restrict NGO activities (08 July 2014)

Severe restrictions placed on NGO activities by Ministry of Defence (07 July 2014)