UN urges BD not to adopt proposed ‘Foreign Donations Bill’
07 November 2015, Nirapad News: United Nations Special Rapporteur on the rights to freedom of peaceful assembly and of association Maina Kiai on Friday urged Bangladesh Parliament not to adopt a Bill which could severely restrict civil society organisations’ access to funding and hinder their activities.
“I urge Parliament not to adopt the Bill as its purpose clearly violates the right to freedom of association, and has a ricochet effect on the realisation of other human rights, as well as on the delivery of aid in a country prone to natural disasters,” the Special Rapporteur said.
He said he stands ready to provide assistance to the government to help ensure that the Bill complies with international human rights law, according to a message received from Geneva.
The draft Foreign Donations (Voluntary Activities) Regulation Act is expected to be debated during the next Parliament session starting Nov 8.
“This Bill is deeply worrying. Civil society is a crucial component for the promotion and protection of human rights, good governance and the rule of law, and for contributing to the provision of humanitarian assistance,” Kiai said.
Unduly restricting civil society organisations’ access to resources therefore not only has a detrimental impact on freedom of association, but also deeply undermines the civil, political, economic, social and cultural rights that these organisations seek to promote and protect, he stressed.
The Special Rapporteur noted that the proposed law would, among other problematic issues, make it compulsory for NGOs seeking to receive or use foreign funds to register with the Government-controlled Non-Governmental Organizations Affairs Bureau, and obtain its approval for each project undertaken with these resources.