Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Government slams critics of NGO law

Government slams critics of NGO law

Government slams critics of NGO law

A government spokesman has hit back at a coalition of 10 prominent rights groups that have urged Cambodia’s foreign donors to consider freezing funding if the controversial law on NGOs and associations is passed in its current form.
 
A coalition including Human Rights Watch, Freedom House and the Asian Forum for Human Rights and Development sent letters to 36 foreign ministers of major donor countries and the European Union last week warning that the law would allow the government to “intimidate and potentially shut down local, national and foreign NGOs, associations, and informal groups that criticize the government or government officials”.

What else do they want? We just want to have a proper law

The groups asked donor countries to call on the government to stop advancing the law, “reassess” bilateral assistance and push for multilateral agencies including the United Nations and international financial institutions to do the same.
Ek Tha, a spokesman and deputy director of the press unit at the Council of Ministers, defended the law yesterday and said the Kingdom had become a “safe haven” for “3,000 NGOs and associations”.

“What else do they want? We just want to have a proper law to regulate their operations to follow the rule of law in the country where they are operating,” he said by email.

Ek Tha also took aim at the global community for inaction during the reign of the Khmer Rouge. “I wish we had foreign NGOs and human rights activists voice their concerns in the 1970s when we were being treated badly under the Khmer Rouge regime,” he said.

“Sadly, no one went to protest before UN headquarters, no foreign country at the time, except the Vietnamese who helped the Cambodian People’s Party (CPP) at the time, to drive Pol Pot from power.”

Phil Robertson, deputy Asia director at Human Rights Watch, said yesterday the law posed a “fundamental violation of freedom of association”.

“This law on associations and NGOs is moving rapidly through the Council of Ministers and the voices of Cambodia’s international development partners need to be heard right now.”

MOST VIEWED

  • US think tank warns of China's 'ulterior motives'

    A US think tank on Tuesday warned that spreading Chinese investment in the Indo-Pacific follows a pattern of leveraging geopolitical influence at the expense of the nations receiving investment, including Cambodia. The report looks at a sample of 15 Chinese port development projects, noting that the

  • More than three tonnes of ivory reportedly bound for Cambodia seized in Mozambique

    A total of 3.5 tonnes of ivory reportedly bound for Cambodia was seized by authorities in Mozambique late last week, according to the NGO Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES). CITES' information was based on a report from the

  • Defence Ministry denies weapons in smuggling case came from Cambodia

    After a Thai national was arrested last week for allegedly smuggling guns from Cambodia to Thailand, Cambodia's Defence Ministry has claimed the weapons seized during the arrest are not used in Cambodia, despite the fact that both types of rifle seized are commonly found in

  • Shipwreck found off coast of Koh Kong

    Royal Cambodian Navy researchers are working to identify a decades-old shipwreck found earlier this month off the coast of Koh Kong province. Divers found the 70-metre-long wreck on April 4 about a mile from Koh Chhlam island, according to Navy officials. Deputy Navy Commander Tea Sokha,