HomeWorldAsiaAmnesty: India Using Anti-Money Laundering Laws To Silence Critics

Amnesty: India Using Anti-Money Laundering Laws To Silence Critics

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According to Amnesty International, India is using recommendations from a global money-laundering watchdog as a “draconian” tool to shut down civil society organisations and suppress activists and critics.

Government critics in civil society and the media have long complained about harassment in the world’s largest democracy under Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Hindu-nationalist administration, which denies the charge.

Amnesty International claimed that the recommendations of the Paris-based Financial Action Task Force (FATF) were being abused to enact “draconian laws to stifle the non-profit sector” and prevent organisations from receiving funding.

The FATF, of which India is a member since 2010, is tasked with combating global money laundering and terrorist financing.

According to critics, Modi’s government has put pressure on rights groups by closely scrutinising their finances and restricting foreign funding.

“Under the guise of combating terrorism, the Indian government has used the Financial Action Task Force’s recommendations to strengthen its arsenal of financial and counter-terrorism laws, which are routinely used to target and silence critics,” Amnesty International India chair Aakar Patel said in a statement.

According to the report, India has cancelled the licences of over 20,600 non-governmental organisations in the last ten years, with nearly 6,000 of these cancellations occurring since 2022.

Amnesty International’s Indian operations were forced to halt in 2020 after its bank accounts were frozen.

The Indian government defended its decision, accusing Amnesty of “illegal practises” involving the transfer of “large amounts of money” from Amnesty UK to India.

Journalists who are critical of the government have also reported increased harassment, both on social media (where Modi’s ruling party has a strong presence) and in person.

Info source – AFP

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