Amnesty India accuses Centre of treating human rights groups like criminals

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Updated: October 27, 2018 4:23:07 PM

Amnesty International India has alleged the union government of treating human rights organisations like criminal enterprises.

The ED officials, however, said they were examining the documents seized during the raid and would come with the details soon.

Amnesty International India has alleged the union government of treating human rights organisations like criminal enterprises. The reaction from the human rights watchdog has come a day after the Enforcement Directorate (ED) carried out searches at two locations of Amnesty International India in connection with the contravention of Foreign Contribution Regulation Act (FCRA).

In a statement, Amnesty International India executive director Aakar Patel said that government authorities were increasingly treating human rights organisations like criminal enterprises. He asserted that the operations of the organisation in India are in conformity with the national regulations and his organisation was committed to the rule of law, The Indian Express reported.

The ED officials, however, said they were examining the documents seized during the raid and would come with the details soon.

Earlier, the ED officials had said that after Ministry of Home Affairs denied permission to Amnesty International India Foundation Trust (AIIFT) under FCRA, the organisation resorted to bypassing the FCRA and floated commercial entity in the name of Amnesty International India Pvt Ltd (AIIPL).

Also read | ED raids Amnesty India for receiving foreign funds in alleged violation of FEMA

The commercial entity of Amnesty International India allegedly received foreign funds through commercial route to the extent of Rs 36 crore till date. Rs 10 crore out of the total Rs 36 crore was received as long-term loan and fixed deposits while another entity – Indians for Amnesty International Trust – established an overdraft facility for Rs 14.25 crore with Rs 10 crore as collateral, according to the ED statement. The remaining Rs 26 crore was received in two separate bank accounts of AIIPL as consultancy services, the ED further stated.

The ED tread the line of questioning the relationship between two entities, AIIPL and Amnesty International India Foundation, Amnesty stated.

The rights organisation stressed that most documents the ED asked for during the search were either available in the public domain or were already filed with relevant authorities. All the details regarding Amnesty India’s current structure, which was the focus of much of the questioning, have been available on its website since 2014, the statement issued by Amnesty said.

The Amnesty remarked that ahead of the raids, the ED authorities leaked a cache of their internal documents marked ‘secret’, which appears to cast Amnesty India’s operations as a dark web of intrigue. It held that the organisations work in India and elsewhere is to hold and fight for universal human rights.

Amnesty wrote on Twitter, “ED raid on Amnesty India shows a disturbing pattern of the government silencing organisations that question power and it is clear that the government wants to instil fear among Civil Society Organisations.”

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