Sri Lanka: the activities of the Presidential Commission of Inquiry in Respect of Non-governmental Organisations (NGOs)

Report of a mission to Sri Lanka in  May-June 1991 on behalf of the ICJ by Stephen C. Neff to study the mandate and operation of the Presidential Commission of Inquiry in respect of NGOs in Sri Lanka.

The NGO Commission consisting of seven eminent persons was established in December 1990 to report on the misuse of funds by NGOs, the legal framework for their supervision and on “such other matters that appear relevant to the
determination of the above matters”.

The report prepared by Dr. Neff was critical of a number of aspects of the work of the NGO Commission, including the breadth of its terms of reference and the oppressive nature of some of the requests for information

The report includes:

I. Background of the NGO Commission
A. The Appointment
B. The Commission’s Methods
II. Freedom of Association: International Legal Norms
III. Freedom of Association: Provisions in the Law of Sri Lanka and of Selected Other Jurisdictions
A. Sri Lanka
B. Selected Other Jurisdictions (India, United Kindgom, United States of America, Canada, Netherlands, Mauritius)
IV. Instructive Case-Law on Freedom of Association
A. General Considerations
B. India
C. United Kingdom
D. United States of America
1. Legislative Inquiries and Freedom of Association
2. Substantive Regulation of NGOs and Freedom of Association
V. The ICJ Mission to Sri Lanka (30 May – 6 June 1991)
VI. The Findings of the ICJ Mission to Sri Lanka
A. The NGO Community
B. The Donor Community
C. The Sri Lanka Government (including the NGO Commission)
VII. Recommendations to the Government of Sri Lanka
A. General Considerations
B. The NGO Commission
C. The Substantive Regulation of NGOs


  • The Commissions of Inquiry Act of 1948 of Sri Lanka
  • The Terms of Reference of the NGO Commission
  • Notice to the Public from the NGO Commission
  • Questionnaire Issued to NGOs by the NGO Commission
  • Supplementary Questionnaire Issued to NGOs by the NGO Commission
  • Voluntary Social Service Organizations (Registration and Supervision) Act of 1980 of Sri Lanka

Sri-Lanka-inquiry-presidential-commission-NGOs-report-mission-1991-eng (full text in English, PDF)


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