Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Election monitors get warning over law on neutrality



Election monitors get warning over law on neutrality

Comfrel head Koul Panha speaks about the recent commune elections during a June meeting of the ‘Situation Room’.
Comfrel head Koul Panha speaks about the recent commune elections during a June meeting of the ‘Situation Room’. Pha Lina

Election monitors get warning over law on neutrality

The Ministry of Interior has issued a warning to election watchdogs Comfrel and Nicfec, ordering them to halt their activities that allegedly violate their NGO obligation of neutrality.

In letters circulated late yesterday and signed by Interior Minister Sar Kheng, the NGOs were informed they had broken Article 24 of the NGO Law, which requires organisations to “maintain their neutrality towards political parties” in Cambodia.

Prime Minister Hun Sen last week accused the group known as the “Situation Room” – an election monitoring coalition of NGOs including Comfrel and Nicfec – of “dirtying the election results” when it suggested the oppressive political climate ahead of last month’s commune poll meant the elections were not completely free and fair.

Following the Prime Minister’s tirade, the Interior Ministry last week confirmed it had placed the Situation Room under investigation on the premise that it was not properly registered with the government, despite it being a temporary coalition of NGOs, not a new entity.

Under the controversial and heavily criticised Law on Associations and NGOs (LANGO), if the groups are “non-compliant” with the ministry’s warning, it can suspend their activities for three months and even remove them from the government’s register.

Nicfec Executive Director Sam Kuntheamy stressed the Situation Room did not take sides during its reporting on the June 4 commune elections.

“We are independent election monitors – we are neutral, we are not biased,” he said.

He said the Situation Room had already wrapped up its activities on June 24, but he feared there may be implications for monitoring the upcoming national poll next year.

“From the warning letter, they don’t want us to form the Situation Room for upcoming elections, that’s what I understand,” he said.

Ministry of Interior spokesman Khieu Sopheak declined to comment yesterday.

MOST VIEWED

  • Would you like fries with that? US burger chain makes Phnom Penh debut

    California-based The Habit Burger Grill restaurant chain is all set to serve up a delicious array of charbroiled burgers and sides at its newest international location in the centre of Phnom Penh. The Habit is “renowned for its award-winning Charburgers grilled over an open flame,

  • Banteay Meanchey flood victims receive aid

    Prime Minister Hun Sen on Wednesday provided aid to more than 10,000 families affected by flooding in Banteay Meanchey province’s Mongkol Borei district and offered his condolences to the 18 victims who drowned in the province over the past week. He said flooding had occured in

  • Angkor provides ‘valuable’ water storage

    The Apsara National Authority (ANA) has stored millions of cubic metres of water at reservoirs in the Angkor area after Cambodia experienced a series of rainstorms over the last few days. The storing of the water, besides serving temple conservation, will also be used to

  • PM urges caution as Polish man tests positive for Covid

    The Ministry of Health on Wednesday reported that a 47-year-old Polish man tested positive for Covid-19 after arriving in Cambodia on Monday. There are a total of six Covid-19 patients currently in the country, all of whom are being treated at the Khmer-Soviet Friendship Hospital

  • Banteay Meanchey floods kill one more as death toll reaches 15

    As floodwaters start to recede in Pursat, Battambang and Pailin provinces and Phnom Penh, Banteay Meanchey continues to bear the brunt as one more person was killed on Monday, bringing the total number of flood-related deaths to 15 in the province this month. Banteay Meanchey provincial

  • Serving coffee with a side of robots

    The eye-catching glass building surrounded by greenery at the intersection of Streets 371 and 2002 in Phnom Penh’s Sen Sok district is more than just another coffee shop where you can while away a few hours. UrHobby House cafe is filled with robots and characters from