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Irene Khan

The following was sent in response to queries from the ‘Island’ regarding a recent report of the payoff to Irene Khan, when she left Amnesty International

Thanks for the query, and also for characterizing me as ‘one of the few critics of sordid NGO/INGO ops’. I appreciate that since there are lots of critics in Sri Lanka, and I suppose what you mean is that I am one of the few who distinguishes between the appalling things a few NGOs did, and the generally good intentions of the majority. It is for this reason that I have kept trying to get government to go more closely into details, what funds are received and for what purpose, how projects are coordinated with government and how their results are monitored. Recently I was delighted that one of my dedicated parliamentary colleagues, Dr Sudharshani Fernandopulle, also asked relevant questions, though she too did not receive fully satisfactory answers.

If we check on these carefully, ensure accounts are filed with relevant authorities (Directorate of Companies or NGO Secretariat or whatever), reports are submitted and read and discussed, and tax paid, we can also develop more productive relationships with hard-working capable NGOs. Unfortunately our government structures are as loose about accountability as most of their critics.

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Rajiva Wijesinha

March 2011
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