The United States is concerned by reports that the Sri Lankan Ministry of Defense has ordered registered Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs) and civil society groups to cease their media engagements and activities. This order undermines Sri Lanka’s longstanding and proud democratic traditions, including freedom of speech and freedom of assembly. We strongly urge the Government of Sri Lanka to allow civil society organizations and NGOs, which play a vital role in supporting Sri Lanka’s democratic values, to operate freely.
The defence ministry’s spokesperson Brigadier Ruwan Wanigasooriyahas denied that the letter calling on NGOs to refrain from certain activities was an attempt to restrict their work. Speaking at a media briefing in Colombo on Tuesday he that the letter, signed by the director of the NGO Secretariat was only a reminder to act according to a mandate previously issued by NGO Secretariat and false information was being disseminated to misguide the public.