ICJ Says FCRA Bill Incompatible With International Law

  • The International Commission of Jurists (ICJ) observed that the Foreign Contribution (Regulation) Amendment Bill, 2020 passed by Parliament on Wednesday was incompatible with international law and would hamper the work of civil society.
  • The legislation fails to comply with India’s international legal obligations and constitutional provisions to respect and protect the rights to freedom of association, expression, and freedom of assembly.
  • The ICJ stressed that the Bill’s provisions would impose arbitrary and extraordinary obstacles on the capacity of human rights defenders and other civil society actors to carry out their important work.
  • It called on the President to withhold his assent due to the “incompatibility of the Bill with international law”.
  • The FCRA 2020 would restrict access to foreign funding for smaller NGOs and public servants.
  • It adds onerous governmental oversight, additional regulations and certification processes, and operational requirements, while simultaneously reducing the limit of administrative expenditure that can be allocated to foreign contributions to 20% from the previous 50%.
  • The statement cited the United Nations Human Rights Council resolution on protecting human rights defenders that said “no law should criminalize or delegitimize activities in defence of human rights on account of the origin of funding”.