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Sri Lanka to tighten controls over NGOs
Published Date: 22/02/2018 (Thursday)

Sri Lanka is to tighten controls over charities and civil society organizations, through changes to a 1980 law requiring the registration of voluntary organizations, Minister Gayantha Karunathilake said.

The changes is partly driven by the requirement of the Financial Intelligence Unit of the Central Bank which is in charge of Anti-Money laundering/Combatting Terrorism Finance (AML/CFT), activities.

Sri Lanka has fallen behind requirement of the global AML/CFT framework and is now in the so-called 'grey list'.

AML/CFT laws have allowed authoritarian governments in illiberal countries to crackdown on political opponents, spy on unarmed citizens and their activities without getting court orders or showing just cause, while also causing problems for day-to-day activities of customers of banks and other companies.

The current administration has also enacted deadly law on digital identification which allows the defence secretary to spy on people without a court order, which lays the foundation of a 'big brother' state.

Citizens have already gone to court over wide-ranging set of rules gazetted by the state, forcing citizens to submit information not only about themselves but about other family members to data base.

The UK has already scrapped such legislation.

Sri Lanka has a history of attempting to stifle non-governmental organizations, critics say.

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