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Opposition to submit complaint over LANGO

The opposition is expected today to lodge a constitutional challenge to the controversial law on associations and non-governmental organisations (LANGO) in a last-ditch effort to stop the legislation before it’s signed by the King.

In a 15-page letter to Constitutional Council President Ek Sam Ol, signed by at least a dozen lawmakers and obtained yesterday, the Cambodia National Rescue Party argues that the LANGO, opposed by hundreds of NGOs, the UN, the EU and the United States, breaches several points of the Kingdom’s constitution.

Among the violations, says CNRP lawmaker Son Chhay, are restrictions on freedom of assembly and expression, protected by article 41, and the right to establish associations, stipulated in Article 42.

The law – which was sent to the council yesterday – also violates Article 31 concerning Cambodia’s recognition of the United Nations charter on human rights, Chhay said.

Several NGOs have asked the nine-member council, controlled by a ruling party majority, to stop the bill, which they see as a tool to curtail civil society’s rights. If the council finds the law violates the constitution it can request changes.

Although not optimistic the body, a “tool” of the ruling party, would amend or scrap the legislation, Chhay said the opposition’s challenge was designed to force a public response to, and further highlight, the concerns.

Chhay said the letter would also inform King Sihamoni of the law’s flaws before he is required to approve it.

ADDITIONAL REPORTING MEAS SOKCHEA

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