Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - King signs law on NGOs

King signs law on NGOs

Activists protest the Law on Associations and Non Governmental Organisations last month in Phnom Penh.
Activists protest the Law on Associations and Non Governmental Organisations last month in Phnom Penh. Heng Chivoan

King signs law on NGOs

The much-disputed Law on Associations and Non-governmental Organisations (LANGO) has passed its final, and almost entirely ceremonial hurdle, as King Norodom Sihamoni yesterday signed a Royal Proclamation passing the legislation into law.

The signing came a day after the law was approved by the Constitutional Council, which rejected a challenge by the opposition that the legislation breached the Kingdom’s charter.

According to government spokesman Phay Siphan, the law will now be forwarded to the Council of Ministers and the country’s ministries in order to be put into effect.

“After the King signed off on the law, it will take effect in 10 days in Phnom Penh and in 20 days in the provinces,” he said yesterday.

Critics say the law’s vague language, including a clause demanding political “neutrality”, will give the government the ability to shut down and prosecute organisations that criticise the government, and it has been the focus of fervent protests across the country.

Last month, opposition lawmakers boycotted the votes in both the National Assembly and Senate, while more than 50 NGOs signed a joint open letter to the King asking him to prevent the legislation’s passing.

The United Nations and exiting US Ambassador William Todd have also expressed deep concerns about the legislation, earning heavy criticism from the government in the process.

In a strongly worded statement yesterday, Human Rights Watch’s Asia Division deputy director Phil Robertson blasted the law’s passing, warning that it gives Prime Minister Hun Sen “an axe in hand” to go after organisations defending the rights of the Cambodian people.

“This law is one of the last building blocks Hun Sen needed to complete his system of authoritarian rule,” he said.

Robertson lambasted the international donor community for standing idly by and allowing the bill to pass.

“There is no upside to this, there is no doubt that this is a profoundly sad day for rights and democracy in Cambodia,” he said.

Meanwhile, senior technical supervisor at rights group Licadho Am Sam Ath vowed that civil society groups will closely monitor any potential excesses the legislation brings and document them to push for future amendments to the law.

“If it is put into effect, we will find the problems that the law causes to people’s freedom,” he said.

MOST VIEWED

  • Hun Sen’s China visit ‘a good opportunity’

    Prime Minister Hun Sen’s visit to Beijing on Sunday to discuss economic and trade issues presents a good opportunity for the Kingdom to strengthen Chinese ties and counter punitive measures by the West, an analyst says. The prime minister’s four-day official visit to

  • Former chief bodyguard receives royal pardon

    The former chief bodyguard of late Senate president Chea Sim has received a royal pardon nearly eight years after he was sentenced to 15 years behind bars on several charges, according to a royal decree dated November 12, last year, and obtained by The Post on Wednesday.

  • Close to the edge: Hair raising pictures from Kulen Mountain

    A new hair raising attraction on Kulen Mountain has finally opened to the public, with people flocking to the protruding cliff edge overlooking green mountainous forests to take photographs. The giant overhanging rock is situated in an area known as Mahendraparvata – an ancient city of

  • US warned not to interfere despite successful meeting

    A senior Ministry of National Defence official said the Tuesday meeting between the US Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defence for South and Southeast Asia Joseph H Felter and General Neang Phat had helped strengthen relations between the two countries’ militaries. However, a senior Cambodian People’