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* EU expresses concern over restrictions on NGOs and on freedom of expression in Sri Lanka
Wed, Jul 23, 2014, 08:34 pm SL Time, ColomboPage News Desk, Sri Lanka.

July 23, Colombo: The European Union delegation in Sri Lanka today expressed concerns about the Sri Lankan government imposing restrictions on the Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs) in the country.

The European Union delegation in Colombo today issued a joint statement in agreement with the Embassies of EU Member States in Sri Lanka, as well as the Embassies of Norway and Switzerland on restrictions on non-governmental organizations and on freedom of expression in Sri Lanka.

The statement said the EU Heads of Mission and the Ambassadors of Norway and Switzerland are very concerned about the recent efforts to restrict legitimate public activities of civil society and non-governmental organizations in Sri Lanka.

"An independent, diverse and pluralistic civil society is indispensable for building peaceful, prosperous and democratic societies," the delegation said.

The delegation urged the Sri Lankan authorities to respect the right of every individual to exercise their freedom of expression, opinion, association and assembly and to take part in the public affairs without undue interference.

"We call upon the Sri Lankan authorities to create a safe and enabling environment in which civil society can operate free from hindrance and insecurity," the statement said.

The Finance and Planning Ministry of Sri Lanka yesterday informed all NGOs that they should receive prior approval from the Ministry before receiving any foreign funds.

Earlier this month Sri Lanka's National Secretariat for Non-Governmental Organization (NGOs), a body functioning under the Ministry of Defense, banned the NGOs from conducting press conferences, workshops, training for journalists, and dissemination of press releases.

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