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CPP-run commissions alone to review LANGO

Hundreds of activists and members of civil society and NGOs march through the streets of Phnom Penh
Hundreds of activists and members of civil society and NGOs march through the streets of Phnom Penh yesterday during a protest calling for the revision of the controversial NGO law. Sreng Meng Srun

CPP-run commissions alone to review LANGO

Hours after hundreds of protesters at the National Assembly called for the withdrawal of the controversial draft law on associations and non-governmental organisations (LANGO), the legislative body announced that only ruling CPP-led commissions would be reviewing the heavily criticised bill.

National Assembly spokesman Chheang Vun said the Commission on the Interior, National Defense and Civil Service Administration; the Commission on Foreign Affairs, International Cooperation, Information and Media; and the Commission on Legislation and Justice have been chosen to review the legislation.

“If the laws are bad, we have to return them to the government, and if the laws are acceptable, we forward them to the National Assembly to adopt,” he said.

However, Rupert Abbott, Amnesty International’s regional research director, criticised the decision not to allow the Commission on Human Rights, which is headed by the opposition, to examine the draft.

“While it seems reasonable for those commissions to examine the draft LANGO, the law will impact on freedom of association and related human rights so a review by the Commission on Human Rights would appear most crucial,” he said.

“There will be concern that this move may amount to . . . the continuation of the exclusive process that has characterised the drafting of this law.”

At yesterday’s protest, Am Sam Ath, of the rights group Licadho, said the law in its current form serves only “to control associations and NGOs as if they are government ministries”.

ADDITIONAL REPORTING BY ALICE CUDDY

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