Representatives from national and International NGOs have urged the president not to give his consent to Foreign Donations (Voluntary Activities) Regulation Act 2014, saying the law would pave the way to violate freedom of expression and thought.
At a press conference yesterday morning at Dhaka Reporters' Unity, representatives of 18 national and international NGOs lodged protests against the newly passed law.
NGO activists said in the name transparency and accountability, government mainly wanted to demoralise voluntary work and regulate NGO activities, especially to violate the freedom of expression.
They also urged the government to bring necessary amendments to the law through discussions with stakeholders.
There are similar provisions in the proposed law for individuals, NGOs and voluntary and charity works which is illogical, they said. Moreover, there are conflicting provisions for individuals' charity works, said Sultana Kamal, human rights activist and also a formar caretaker government adviser.
Last week, the parliament passed the bill and the cabinet approved the it on June 2, 2014.
The bill has a provision for canceling registration the of an NGO for making malicious and derogatory statements against the constitution and constitutional bodies of the country.
Mentioning this, Sultana Kamal said the provision to cancel NGO registration is not only vague, open to misinterpretation and wayward but also contradictory to the rights to freedom of expression provided in the constitution.
Transparency International Bangladesh's Executive Director Dr Iftekharuzzaman, Bangladesh Environmental Lawyers Association's chief executive Syeda Rizwana Hasan, Nijera Kori coordinator Khushi Kabir, Manusher Jonno Foundation Executive Director Shaheen Anam spoke at the press conference among the others.
“If there is no explanation or definition of this term 'malicious statement,' there will be an opportunity to misuse it,” Khushi Kabir said.
She said they had sent a letter to the president and expressed the hope that the president will consider their demand.
Syeda Rizwana Hasan said there will be a serious impact on the social works especially on individuals because of this law.