Australian charities appeal to UN over rules | Canberra weather


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A coalition of Australian charities appealed to the United Nations after a row with the federal government over new regulations they say are aimed at silencing them. Under the planned changes, charities risk losing their tax-deductible donation status if their resources are deemed to support offenses such as trespassing or property damage. The $ 100 billion sector is typically funded by donors who do not have to pay tax on the money they donate. Charities have expressed concern that the changes mean they are written off for things like staff blocking a trail during a public vigil or speaking or tweeting in support of a public protest. The 12 charities have written to three UN special rapporteurs, asking for an “intervention” to end proposed rules “which could shut down charities for speaking out.” The letter said the new rules “would infringe the rights to freedom of expression and assembly, which are protected under international human rights law. The UN special rapporteurs have been urged to call on the Australian government to refrain from introducing the regulations to parliament. The UN petition is signed by 12 organizations including Amnesty International, Anglicare Australia, Baptist Care Australia, Oxfam, the Victorian Aboriginal Legal Service, the Fred Hollows Foundation, the St Vincent de Paul Society and UnitingCare. the most important ones – like women getting the vote, the first Australians being classified as people instead of wildlife, the five day work week – are all rights fought with the power of the people, ”said the Amnesty International Australia Director Sam Klintworth. deregistration of organizations like Amnesty is unthinkable in a country that prides itself on giving everyone a fair chance. Assistant Tr Chief Michael Sukkar, who oversees ACNC, the charity regulator, said regulations were needed to ensure that activist organizations “posing as charity” will no longer be tolerated. “Australians support charity through donations and tax breaks in the hope that charitable resources will be spent on charity, not on promoting or participating in illegal activities,” said he declared. Mr Sukkar’s office said the rules are aimed at sustained illegal activity and would not result in unsubscribing from staff tweets. The letter is addressed to the United Nations Special Rapporteur on the Situation of Human Rights Defenders, the United Nations Special Rapporteur on the Right to Freedom of Expression and the United Nations Special Rapporteur on the Rights to Freedom of peaceful assembly and association. There are approximately 56,000 registered charities in Australia. Associated Australian Press


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