July 11, Colombo: Representatives of the Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs) in Sri Lanka say that the government's move to restrict the NGOs may only deprive people in the country of access to information but will not prevent the information flowing outside of the country.
The Executive Director of Transparency International in Sri Lanka Lawyer J.C. Weliamuna said that the government's order to the NGOs not to hold press conferences, not to issue press releases and not to train journalists may not prevent the information from flowing to the international community. It will only prevent information transfer to the local people, he says.
He said that the foreign countries have many other channels to obtain information. NGOs are a critical part of the government, he pointed out.
Dr. Nirmal Ranjith Dewasiri of the Federation of University Teachers' Associations (FUTA) said that the move was a blow to democracy. He said that the government had no right to restrict the public organizing lawfully.
Dr. Nimalka Fernando of the International Movement Against Racism and Discrimination pointed out that the NGOs as well as the government are bound to obey the UN international conventions for which the nation have ratified. The order has been issued without proper knowledge about this, she said.
A number of other representatives of civil society organizations addressed the press conference held in Colombo on July 09 to protest the government circular to restrict the NGOs.