The Malta Independent 9 May 2021, Sunday

NGOs to inform Council of Europe on ‘draconian’ fundraising rules

Wednesday, 28 April 2021, 14:18 Last update: about 11 days ago

A newly-set up action group representing voluntary organisations is going ahead with plans to tell the Council of Europe about the new ‘draconian’ fund raising rules.

Robert Aquilina, from the Voluntarjat Action Group, described the new rules as a threat to the volunteering sector, a threat to the freedom of expression and a threat to the right to association.

Aquilina argued that the Council of Europe does not want to hinder the voluntary sector, arguing that such rules would go against this principle as the rules can facilitate state interference.

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He said that the way forward should be to repeal the legal notices which introduced the “draconian rules”, and that a consultation process with voluntary organisations should follow.

He also said that the authorities need to explain what their aim is.

The group said that the principle that a voluntary organisation does not require permission to make public collections, as long as it is registered, is a fundamental one.

"It is unacceptable that this fundamental right has been abolished from the Statute Book and we demand it be reintroduced without further delay," it insisted.

The group spoke of the danger that having a state-appointed person take decisions on who can and cannot fundraise could be dangerous. They also highlighted that NGOs must already submit annual audited accounts and that the new legislative changes add unnecessary burdens on volunteers.

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