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HRDA-India condemns cancellation of FCRA licence of Teesta Setalvad's NGO
Human Rights Defenders Alert (HRDA) India, a national network for the protection and promotion of human rights defenders in the country, has strongly condemned the cancelling of the license of Sabrang Trust under the Foreign Contributions (Regulations) Act of 2010 by the Ministry of Home Affairs, Government of India. Sabrang Trust is associated with activist Teesta Setalvad.

HRDA-India in a statement said, "This cancellation is of extreme concern, as this is not the first time activists working for justice and truth with regard to the 'Gujarat Riots' in 2002 have been targeted, especially human rights defender Ms. Teesta Setalvad, who herself has been targeted in several other false criminal cases for which she had to seek anticipatory bail from the Supreme Court."

In a statement released yesterday (16/06/2016) by United Nation's Special Rapporteurs on human rights defenders, Michel Forst, on freedom of expression, David Kaye, and on freedom of association, Maina Kiai called upon the Government of India to repeal the Foreign Contributions (Regulation) Act and said that they "are alarmed that FCRA provisions are being used more and more to silence organisations advocating civil, political, economic, social, environmental and cultural priorities, which may differ from those backed by the Government".

It is pertinent to note that the FCRA licence of Lawyers Collective, another non-governmental organisation was suspended by the Home Ministry on 31 May, 2016 as they assisted Teesta Setalvad legally in a separate FCRA suspension, ordered in September 2015 against Sabrang Trust and Citizens for Justice and Peace.

In April 2016, UN Special Rapporteur on the rights to freedom of peaceful assembly and of association published a legal analysis of the Foreign Contribution (Regulation) Act and stated that the statute is "not in conformity with international law, principles and standards".

Kiai further mentioned in the report that, "this appears to give the government broad discretionary powers that could be applied in an arbitrary and capricious manner".

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