Lanka`s order on NGOs undermines freedom of speech: US

Expressing concern over Sri Lankan government`s recent order on non-governmental organisations, the US has said the move undermines freedom of speech and assembly.

Washington: Expressing concern over Sri Lankan government`s recent order on non-governmental organisations, the US has said the move undermines freedom of speech and assembly.

"The United States is concerned by reports that the Sri Lankan Ministry of Defense has ordered registered Non-Governmental Organisations (NGOs) and civil society groups to cease their media engagements and activities," State Department spokesperson Jen Psaki said.

"This order undermines Sri Lanka`s longstanding and proud democratic traditions, including freedom of speech and freedom of assembly," she said.

The National NGO Secretariat of Sri Lanka, under the Ministry of Defence and Urban Development had on July 1 issued a new regulation which stated, it has been found that certain non-governmental organisations conduct press conferences, workshops, training for journalists, and dissemination of press releases which is beyond their mandate.

President Mahinda Rajapaksa has often accused NGOs operating in the country for acts inimical to country`s national interests.

Psaki urged the government to "allow civil society organisations and NGOs, which play a vital role in supporting Sri Lanka`s democratic values, to operate freely."

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