US Is ‘Deeply Troubled’ by Russia’s ‘Undesirable’ NGO Law

By Jonas Bernstein

Voice of America

The United States has expressed concern over a new Russian law giving prosecutors the right to declare foreign and international non-governmental organizations “undesirable” and to fine or jail Russians who are involved with them.

The U.S. State Department said Saturday that it is “deeply troubled” by Russia’s new law that allows the government to ban activities of “undesirable” organizations and criminalizes “cooperation” with them.

“We are concerned this new power will further restrict the work of civil society in Russia and is a further example of the Russian government’s growing crackdown on independent voices and intentional steps to isolate the Russian people from the world,” said State Department spokesperson Marie Harf.


NGOs fear ‘better regulation’ could hurt environment

More than 100 environmental NGOs said on Tuesday (12 May) that they feared the European Commission may use its better regulation programme to cut nature protection laws.


The European Commission opened a consultation on Tuesday into EU nature legislation as part of its Regulatory Fitness and Performance Programme (REFIT).

REFIT is part of the better regulation strategy led by Commission Vice-President Frans Timmermans. It aims to simplify EU law and reduce regulatory costs, but has been criticised for endangering social and environmental standards.

Campaigners are worried that the consultation is a first step towards sacrificing the Birds and Habitats Directives in a bid to become more “business friendly”.


India Regulatory Brief: 9,000 NGO Licenses Revoked, Maharashtra to Make Starting a Business Easier

By India-Briefing

Government Crackdown on Foreign Funded NGOs

The Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) recently revoked the licenses of nearly 9,000 non-governmental organizations (NGOs). The MHA revoked the licenses for non-compliance with Section 18 of the Foreign Contributions Regulation Act (FCRA), which stipulates that NGOs must declare financial contributions from abroad to the central government.

Prime Minister Indira Gandhi’s government implemented the FCRA in 1976 during the so-called ‘Emergency’ – which was associated with the suspension of democratic exercises and curbs on civil liberties – to limit the political influence of foreign funded organizations. In 2011, the Congress-led government overhauled the FCRA, increasing the MHA’s discretionary powers and the number of compliances for NGOs. The overhaul followed several high-profile protest campaigns supported by foreign funded NGOs against large-scale infrastructure projects.


US warns India over NGO crackdown

By Victor Mallet

Financial Times

The US has criticised the Indian government’s crackdown on civil society groups, with Richard Verma, American ambassador to New Delhi, lamenting the “potentially chilling effects” of official curbs on organisations such as the Ford Foundation.

Two weeks ago India placed the US-based Ford Foundation on a national security watchlist, following complaints about the philanthropy group’s links to an activist who has sought the conviction of Prime Minister Narendra Modi for human rights abuses.

The year-old Hindu nationalist government of Mr Modi has also blocked the bank accounts of Greenpeace India, in part because the environmental organisation has opposed mining projects in rural areas.


The new movers and shakers

They don’t wear balaclavas or wave banners, but they are bringing about change

The Economist

VIRIDIANA RÍOS is a 32-year-old activist who grew up in the impoverished suburbs of Mexico City. But she is no left-wing firebrand. She is the Harvard-educated head of an NGO that uses analysis, statistics and cheeky social-media campaigns to agitate for clean government. Instead of adopting the rabble-rousing tactics of the street, she is part of a movement of civil-society wonks who are gaining big influence in Mexico. Their weapons are hard facts and solid arguments. “We are the technocracy of civil society,” she says.