Amnesty International shuts down its India operations citing ‘constant harassment’ from the Indian government

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  • Amnesty said that the Indian government froze its bank accounts on September 10, 2020.
  • The organization has laid off its entire staff in India and has said that it is a result of the “incessant witch-hunt of human rights organizations by the Government of India”.
  • The crackdown on Amnesty comes at a time when the Indian government passed the Foreign Contribution (Regulation) Amendment Bill, which restricts the use of foreign funds by not-for-profit organizations.
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Global human rights organization Amnesty International is shutting down its India operations and has called out the Indian government’s ‘repressive’ policies. The organization has laid off its entire staff in India and has said that it is a result of “incessant witch-hunt of human rights organizations by the Government of India over unfounded and motivated allegations”.

Amnesty said that its bank accounts have been frozen by the Indian government on 10 September 2020.

“The continuing crackdown on Amnesty International India over the last two years and the complete freezing of bank accounts is not accidental. The constant harassment by government agencies including the Enforcement Directorate is a result of our unequivocal calls for transparency in the government, more recently for accountability of the Delhi police and the Government of India regarding the grave human rights violations in Delhi riots and Jammu & Kashmir. For a movement that has done nothing but raise its voices against injustice, this latest attack is akin to freezing dissent,” said Avinash Kumar, Executive Director of Amnesty International India.

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The crackdown on Amnesty comes at a time when the Indian government passed the Foreign Contribution (Regulation) Amendment Bill, which restricts the use of foreign funds by not for profit organizations.

What’s FCRA?

The Indian government had recently passed the Foreign Contribution (Regulation) Amendment Bill, 2020, during the monsoon session of the parliament. The FCRA will restrict the use of foreign funds in Indian not for profit organizations.

The amendment proposed:
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  • To include "public servants" in the prohibited category
  • To reduce the administrative expenses through foreign funds by an organisation to 20% from the earlier 50%.
  • Organisations can receive the foreign funds in a bank account designated as the ‘FCRA account’ only in a branch of the State Bank of India, New Delhi
  • Organisations will now have to register for renewal of licenses every six months and can also be subject to government scrutiny then.
  • To prohibit transfer of grants received under FCRA to any other organisation
  • Seeks to make Aadhar mandatory for registrations
Amnesty fights back

However, Amnesty is contesting the use of foreign funds in the organisation. “For human rights work in India, it operates through a distinct model of raising funds domestically. More than four million Indians have supported Amnesty International India’s work in the last eight years and around 100,000 Indians have made financial contributions,” said the official statement of the company.


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