FATF to Investigate India as NGOs Says its Misusing Anti-Money Laundering Laws

October 19, 2023

Amnesty International on 27 September 2023 reported the Indian Government is misusing the recommendations of the Financial Action Task Force, an international watchdog on terrorism financing and money laundering, to suppress the work of civil society organizations and activists.

FATF is poised to scrutinize whether the Indian government, under the leadership of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, is exploiting local laws to target non-profit organizations such as Amnesty International and policy think tanks.

In November, a delegation from FATF is scheduled to visit India with the purpose of meeting representatives from non-profit organizations, including international ones, to acquire first-hand perspectives on prevailing circumstances as per media reports.

Non-compliance with FATF standards and violation of international human rights law

The recommendations of the FATF have been misused by Indian authorities to implement anti-money laundering laws in order to curtail non-profit organizations as reported by Amnesty. These laws are consequently employed for prosecuting terrorism-linked charges and in addition, to hinder the access of financial resources for non-profit organizations and activists.

Aakar Patel currently serves as chair of the board at Amnesty International India, said, “Under the guise of combating terrorism, the Indian Government has leveraged the Financial Action Task Force’s recommendations to tighten its arsenal of financial and counter-terrorism laws which are routinely misused to target and silence critics. The FATF  must hold the Indian authorities accountable for the persistent weaponization of its recommendations”.

He also added, “The FATF must hold the Indian authorities accountable for the persistent weaponization of its recommendations”.


NGOs and human rights activists share equal concerns about terrorism as governments do, yet in certain instances governments can disregard this fact due to political reasons. Under the pretext of counter-terrorism and safeguarding security, they often apprehend, arbitrarily detain, and prosecute, non-profit organizations under anti-money laundering laws. All this happens as a consequence of their efforts to document human rights violations and urge their governments to fulfill their legal duty to uphold the fundamental rights of all citizens.

According to Amnesty International, over the past few years, Modi’s government has progressively employed these laws to restrict and impede the activities of several non-government organizations and research institutions, including Greenpeace. Amnesty International ceased its operations in India in 2020 citing persistent interference from government authorities.