Restrictions from government makes funding for NGOs difficult

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The Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders has said access to funding by Non-Governmental Organisations (NGOs), is increasingly being hindered by many governments, whose primary intentions it seems, are to silence the human rights defenders.

It said this obstacle not only violates universally recognised human rights standards but seriously impacts on the efforts by civil society to promote and protect human rights and ensure that the voice of the victims of human rights violations are heard.

The Annual Report 2013 of the Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders, a joint programme of the World Organisation Against Torture and the International Federation for Human Rights, made available to the Ghana News Agency on Friday, provides a global review of the violations of NGOs? right to funding via various forms of restrictions imposed by states.

It provides a detailed picture of the problem which included cases from 35 countries.

The report said the right of NGOs to access funding was an integral part of the right to freedom of association, and access to funds and resources was essential, without which the daily work of NGOs was jeopardised.

It said in some countries, the consequences of such laws and practices were debilitating.

?In Ethiopia, regulations on foreign funding has forced NGOs to reduce their activities, dismiss part of their staff or end human rights related activities.

?In the Russian Federation, NGOs receiving foreign funds face criminal liability if they fail to include ?foreign agent? on all official documents.

?In Belarus, ?Viasna? Human Rights Centre President, Ales Bialiatski, is serving a prison term for using foreign funding and his colleagues were evicted from their offices,? the report said.

It noted that some countries also use the technique of ?restriction by omission? to prevent human rights NGOs? from gaining access to funding.

It said by not applying the procedure laid down by their own laws and regulations, the authorities denied NGOs the ability to carry out projects funded by organisations or foreign countries, as in Bangladesh.

Based on the legal framework surrounding the right to gain access to funding and the embryonic jurisprudence on this subject, the Report seeks to foster an in-depth analysis of the negative impact of these restrictive measures, and address recommendations to all stakeholders.

Source: GNA

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