Search

Search form

Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Protests over NGO law across country

Protests over NGO law across country

Community members hold a banner during a protest against the controversial NGO law yesterday in Svay Rieng province.
Community members hold a banner during a protest against the controversial NGO law yesterday in Svay Rieng province. ADHOC

Protests over NGO law across country

Hundreds of people across the country protested yesterday against the draft NGO law, as it was announced that the controversial legislation will go before the Senate on Friday.

Members of community groups and NGOs gathered in 13 provinces to call for the draft Law on Associations and Non Governmental Organisations (LANGO) to be transferred back to the National Assembly where it was approved amid an opposition boycott earlier this month.

Demonstrators distributed leaflets, released balloons, held community forums, and organised marches to provincial lawmakers’ offices in last-ditch efforts to stop the bill passing.

Am Sam Ath, technical supervisor for local rights group Licadho, said protesters wanted to “show their willingness not to support the [LANGO] even though it was passed by the National Assembly and show that they do not need such a law”.

“If the law is approved, [groups like] the Prey Lang Network and the Independent Monk Network for Social Justice, and youths that once campaigned are no longer permitted to and will be fined,” he added.

In Siem Reap and Preah Sihanouk provinces, police blocked the roads as marchers approached.

The draft LANGO has long come under fire from critics who say the legislation, comprising nine chapters and 39 articles, gives the government sweeping powers to restrict civil society, freedom of association and freedom of expression.

Phuong Sothea, Pursat provincial coordinator for local rights group Adhoc, who joined yesterday’s action, said the law would be used as a government tool to “stifle our voices”.

“We do not need the LANGO because the law restricts the freedom of people, unions, and communities to express themselves, which is contrary to the spirit of the constitutional law.”

Buth Kosal, who joined protests in Svay Rieng province yesterday, said he would “not vote for any lawmakers approving the law” in future elections.

He added that people in his community opposed the bill because they believed it would “not let us have freedom of expression when the authorities abuse people’s rights”.

But despite ongoing opposition to the LANGO, the Senate yesterday issued a notice, signed by its Secretary General Oum Sarith, stating that the draft will be reviewed by the Senate’s standing committee on Friday.

Eleven Sam Rainsy Party senators announced on Thursday that they will boycott the upcoming vote on the bill.

RECOMMENDED STORIES

  • Breaking: PM says prominent human rights NGO ‘must close’

    Prime Minister Hun Sen has instructed the Interior Ministry to investigate the Cambodian Center for Human Rights (CCHR) and potentially close it “because they follow foreigners”, appearing to link the rights group to the opposition Cambodia National Rescue Party's purported “revolution”. The CNRP - the

  • Rainsy and Sokha ‘would already be dead’: PM

    Prime Minister Hun Sen on Sunday appeared to suggest he would have assassinated opposition leaders Sam Rainsy and Kem Sokha had he known they were promising to “organise a new government” in the aftermath of the disputed 2013 national elections. In a clip from his speech

  • Massive ceremony at Angkor Wat will show ‘Cambodia not in anarchy’: PM

    Government officials, thousands of monks and Prime Minister Hun Sen himself will hold a massive prayer ceremony at Angkor Wat in early December to highlight the Kingdom’s continuing “peace, independence and political stability”, a spectacle observers said was designed to disguise the deterioration of

  • PM tells workers CNRP is to blame for any sanctions

    In a speech to workers yesterday, Prime Minister Hun Sen pinned the blame for any damage inflicted on Cambodia’s garment industry by potential economic sanctions squarely on the opposition party. “You must remember clearly that if the purchase orders are reduced, it is all