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Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Rights official alludes to shuttering NGOs

People protest on the streets of Phnom Penh last year to raise their concerns about the controversial NGO law.
People protest on the streets of Phnom Penh last year to raise their concerns about the controversial NGO law. Vireak Mai

Rights official alludes to shuttering NGOs

The newly appointed head of the Cambodian Human Rights Committee, Keo Remy, has threatened to use the controversial NGO law (LANGO) to shut down groups that continue to instigate “chaos” and “violence”.

Remy, who was appointed to the government body last week, in a press conference yesterday accused “some” NGOs of pushing the Kingdom towards civil war by trying to “topple the government” under “the umbrella of human rights”.

“We are concerned about the actions of a few civil society groups, who have gone far beyond the limitation of exercising their rights without respect for the country’s laws, causing anarchy,” he said, adding that he was also concerned Cambodia would follow in the footsteps of warn-torn countries such as Syria and Iraq.

“Before getting bigger, it starts out small. Therefore the government has . . . to uphold security and keep public order,” he said. “If civil society continues without permission and they cause violence and chaos, under the NGO and civil society law, if they cause such things, the Ministry of Interior has the right to shut down associations, organisations and civil society.”

The comments came as eight members of civil society were detained for several hours for participating in a peaceful “Black Monday” protest over the arrest of four members of rights group Adhoc and an election official in relation to an investigation into opposition leader Kem Sokha.

Critics say the government is using spurious legal justifications to crack down on the opposition and civil society.

Remy’s warning also echoed recent calls by pro-government NGOs for the government to use LANGO to punish groups such as Adhoc.

The law, passed last July, allows the Interior Ministry to shut down organisations that “endanger security and public order or jeopardise national security, national unity, culture, traditions and customs of Cambodian national society”.

“We were concerned when the law was passed that its unclear language could be interpreted or manipulated in different ways,” said the executive director of the NGO umbrella group Cooperation Committee for Cambodia, Soeng Saroen.

Human rights lawyer Billy Tai said it was clear the government was expanding its crackdown to silence critics within civil society.

“The Cambodian Human Rights Committee has no legitimacy as an independent human rights institute, and therefore can only be treated as another CPP-controlled department,” he said.

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Don Rennie's picture

Dear Dara and Shaun,

I do not think any NGO in Cambodia wants to create violence.

The chaos Keo Remy refers to is chaos created by the CPP and the government. When the government keeps its nose and mouth away from democratic rights of freedom of expression and freedom of speech, there is no chaos.

Even though the leaders are/were similar in all three nations, in no way would Cambodia follow in the footsteps of Syria and Iraq. The people of Cambodia hold little value for the world at large.

The CPP has many uneducated and stupid people in its ranks and Keo Remy is one of them. As Sam Rainsy said before, the CPP government is a stupid group.

DR

Bob's picture

Who is Remy and Yentieng? For whom are they working for ? For the CPP or for Cambodian people? If they are working and helping to protect Cambodia civil rights they would never do what they have done.
They made laws for their own small gangs benefit and they are not renforcing the law to protect the civilians. Communist is still ruling this country again after Pol Pot.

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