Secretary to the Ministry of Defence Gotabaya Rajapaksa has urged the NGO community to discuss their issues rather than opting to internationalize them.
The discussion during the meeting held between the Defence Secretary and the representatives from 11 NGOs engaged with CHOGM 2013 and the associated Commonwealth People’s Forum, had been based on the issuance of the NGO Secretariat circular and the new issues that have emerged following the government highlighting on the need for NGOs to work within their mandate.
The discussion moreover had also branched out into government surveillance of NGO activities, power devolution, issues on missing persons and the unwillingness of NGOs to dialogue with the government.
The Defence Secretary had made a several proposals in order to iron out differences that have arisen between the NGOs and the government.
Two decisions had been reached upon during the meeting to which includes:
-regularizing meetings between the NGO Secretariat and the NGOs to collect relevant information and to solve issues
-bring the Defense Secretary into dialogue with those NGOs that are more strongly and openly critical of the government
Among one such proposal had been for the NGOs to work closely with the NGO Secretariat liaison offices in district secretariats in order to resolve any problems that would be encountered in the field.
He had also expressed his commitment to environmental protection and on the possible role that can be played by NGOs in working in the environmental sector.
A total of 11 NGOs had participated in the meeting with the Defense Secretary to which includes Colombo District Business Development Co-op Society, Maternity & Child Life Development Foundation, Eco friendly Volunteers (ECO-V), The Sarvodaya Movement, Seva Lanka Foundation, Vanni Cultural Fund, National Peace Council, Centre for Poverty Analysis, Oferr Ceylon, Manawa Shakthi Padanama and the Human Rights Organization of Sri Lanka and it had been facilitated by Dr. Lalith Chandradasa from the Presidential Secretariat.