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Host of groups call for scrapping the NGO law

Host of groups call for scrapping the NGO law

More than a dozen international advocacy groups wrote to National Assembly President Heng Samrin asking him to withdraw a controversial draft law on NGOs and associations.

The group said the draft “appears designed to restrict the legitimate activities of civil society and human rights defenders in violation of the right to freedom of association”.

“Drafted in a closed and flawed process, there has been no consultation and no opportunity to comment on an official draft of the law, despite repeated requests by civil society groups,” the letter reads.

Signatories to the letter included Amnesty International, Global Witness, Human Rights Watch, the International Commission of Jurists, and Oxfam.

The groups highlight seven elements of the draft legislation – expected to pass in coming weeks – that they argue would “severely undermine the crucial role that civil society plays in Cambodia”.

Issues raised over provisions, which require NGOs and associations to register within “onerous” restrictions, and places “arbitrary” constraints on founding members should be scrapped, they argue.

Chheang Vun, National Assembly spokesman, declined to comment yesterday.

“If the [law] is passed, the government will be violating the right to freedom of association . . . and the right to participate actively in the political, economic, social and cultural life of the nation,” the letter reads.

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