Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Input on NGO law over: gov’t

Input on NGO law over: gov’t

Civil society groups and NGOs march along Phnom Penh’s riverfront towards the National Assembly during a demonstration last year
Civil society groups and NGOs march along Phnom Penh’s riverfront towards the National Assembly during a demonstration last year. Critics of the draft law fear it will give the government too much power to control NGO activities. Heng Chivoan

Input on NGO law over: gov’t

The government will not consult civil society groups on the latest iteration of a draft law that will regulate non-governmental organisations and associations, a senior Interior Ministry official said yesterday.

Meas Sarim, deputy director-general of the General Department of Local Administration at the Ministry of Interior (MOI), said that the Council of Ministers had sent the law back to the MOI last year with orders that certain changes recommended by civil society groups be made.

“We have deleted many articles. For instance, the article that said that organisations or associations must re-register when the law goes into effect, now we have made it that [registered] NGOs can write to inform the ministry about their NGO [instead].”

As the government has already consulted a number of times with civil society groups, the latest draft of the law will not be shown to them and no further consultations will be sought, he said.

“We won’t meet them again. We are pushing this law to be approved in this 5th mandate of the government. I cannot say whether that’s in 2014 … but we have to push it ahead.”

Sarim added that the latest draft would not require small grassroots groups to officially register as organisations.

A major concern when the fourth draft of the law was released in 2011 was that its vague definitions of NGOs and associations would allow the government to restrict certain groups, such as land rights protesters, by forcing them to register.

In December 2011, Prime Minister Hun Sen said the draft law would be delayed until further consultation between civil society groups and NGOs reached an agreement.

But Soeung Saroeun, executive director at leading NGO member group the Cooperation Committee for Cambodia, said that civil society groups had not been approached since that time.

“What is important now is to have the latest draft … so we can provide further comments on that law [and] have proper consultation with civil society,” he said.

Despite claims made by the government at a UN rights review in January that the law had already been approved by the Council of Ministers, council spokesman Phay Siphan yesterday confirmed that the law was back at the MOI.

“If it had been passed by the Council of Ministers it would be in the National Assembly.… Nothing has happened yet.”

MOST VIEWED

  • Hong Kong firm done buying Coke Cambodia

    Swire Coca-Cola Ltd, a wholly-owned subsidiary of Hong Kong-listed Swire Pacific Ltd, on November 25 announced that it had completed the acquisition of The Coca-Cola Co’s bottling business in Cambodia, as part of its ambitions to expand into the Southeast Asian market. Swire Coca-Cola affirmed

  • Cambodia's Bokator now officially in World Heritage List

    UNESCO has officially inscribed Cambodia’s “Kun Lbokator”, commonly known as Bokator, on the World Heritage List, according to Minister of Culture and Fine Arts Phoeurng Sackona in her brief report to Prime Minister Hun Sen on the night of November 29. Her report, which was

  • NagaWorld union leader arrested at airport after Australia trip

    Chhim Sithar, head of the Labour Rights Supported Union of Khmer Employees at NagaWorld integrated casino resort, was arrested on November 26 at Phnom Penh International Airport and placed in pre-trial detention after returning from a 12-day trip to Australia. Phnom Penh Municipal Court Investigating Judge

  • Takeo hand-woven silk items provide local high-quality alternative to imports

    After graduating from university and beginning her career as a civil servant at the the Ministry of Economy and Finance, Khieu Sina found time to establish a business that aligns with her true passion – quality hand-woven Khmer goods. Her product line, known as Banteay Srei,

  • Sub-Decree approves $30M for mine clearance

    The Cambodian government established the ‘Mine-Free Cambodia 2025 Foundation’, and released an initial budget of $30 million. Based on the progress of the foundation in 2023, 2024 and 2025, more funds will be added from the national budget and other sources. In a sub-decree signed by Prime Minister Hun Sen

  • Two senior GDP officials defect to CPP

    Two senior officials of the Grassroots Democratic Party (GDP) have asked to join the Cambodian People’s Party (CPP), after apparently failing to forge a political alliance in the run-up to the 2023 general election. Yang Saing Koma, chairman of the GDP board, and Lek Sothear,