Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Land rights NGO suspended

Land rights NGO suspended

Protesters demonstrate against land rights NGO Equitable Cambodia in Phnom Penh earlier this month.
Protesters demonstrate against land rights NGO Equitable Cambodia in Phnom Penh earlier this month. Photo supplied

Land rights NGO suspended

The Ministry of Interior yesterday ordered the temporary suspension of land rights NGO Equitable Cambodia for allegedly violating its own by-laws and the controversial law regulating NGOs passed in 2015.

In a letter signed yesterday, Interior Minister Sar Kheng ordered NGO Director Eang Vuthy to “temporarily suspend Equitable Cambodia’s activities for thirty working days”.

According to the letter, the organisation violated Article 5 of its own by-laws, as well as Articles 10 and 25 of the Law on Associations and NGOs.

Article 10 sets out that NGOs must submit bank statements to the ministry within 30 days of registration and notify it of any changes to its address, statute, leadership or bank information. Article 25 orders any domestic NGO to “submit a copy of its activity report and of its annual financial report” no later than by the end of the following year. The ministry did not provide any information on the alleged violation of the organisation’s internal rules.

The letter also mentions a complaint by residents of Chum Norb village, in Kampong Speu province’s Trapaing Chor commune, filed earlier this month against the organisation.

Approximately 30 of the protesters travelled to Phnom Penh demanding its closure because it had allegedly “incited the community to separate” in a land dispute case with ruling party Senator Ly Yong Phat’s Phnom Penh Sugar. However, other villagers still represented by the NGO suspected at the time the protesters were hired by the sugar company.

Company representative Andy Seng did not respond to requests for comment as of press time.

The ministry’s letter asks the organisation to submit a bank account statement, its activity and financial reports, as well as its report regarding the dispute with Phnom Penh Sugar, which was the recipient of a 2010 economic land concession.

“In case they don’t follow the notice, the Ministry of Interior will take legal action according to the law,” the minister wrote.Equitable Cambodia could not be reached yesterday.

Chey Beurn, a 60-year-old villager of Trapaing Chor commune and one of the complainants earlier this month, said he was “happy” about the decision. “This NGO deserves what [authorities] have done,” he said. “They went too far, they make the communities hate each other.”

But another resident from the same commune, Phong Sokit, expressed concern about the closure. The organisation has supported him as he tried to solve his dispute with the company.

“I feel very sad that this NGO closed. They taught us about . . . human rights laws,” he said, adding that villagers might protest the closure. “So I feel very regretful, because this NGO has not done any harm to the villagers or the communities.”

MOST VIEWED

  • Cambodia armed with money laundering laws

    Money laundering will now carry a penalty of up to five years in prison while those convicted of financing terrorists will be jailed for up to 20 years, according to new laws promulgated by King Norodom Sihamoni and seen by The Post on Thursday. Comprising nine

  • Schools to be reopened in ‘three stages’

    With guidance from Prime Minister Hun Sen, the Ministry of Education, Youth and Sport, is in the process of reopening schools in three stages. But no timeline has been set, ministry spokesperson Ros Soveacha said on Thursday. Soveacha said the first stage will be to

  • Thai border crossings eased

    The Cambodian Embassy in Thailand said in an announcement on Wednesday that Thailand’s government has allowed certain passengers from several countries to enter its borders. The visitors must go back to their country immediately after their duties in Thailand are fulfilled, the embassy said.

  • Gov’t says tourism recovers slightly despite pandemic

    The Ministry of Tourism and the Phnom Penh municipal administration have recognised 33 tourism businesses in the capital which have consistently implemented safety measures for tourists and adhered to the code of conduct issued by the ministry. Recently, the ministry announced that tourism businesses had to

  • Mull ASEAN border opening, PM urges

    Prime Minister Hun Sen has requested that ASEAN launch a scenario for gradually reopening cross-border travel and trade between countries in the region. He said ASEAN has had more success combating Covid-19 compared to other regions. The prime minister’s request was made at the

  • Ministry reports 11 new Covid-19 cases, reiterates vigilance

    Minister of Health Mam Bun Heng has urged people to continue practising virus prevention techniques after 11 people tested positive for Covid-19 within two days after arriving in the Kingdom. Speaking on Sunday, Bun Heng stressed the importance of washing hands, wearing masks or scarves when

  • Koh Rong land ‘belongs to firm’

    Preah Sihanouk Provincial Administration spokesperson Kheang Phearum told The Post on Sunday that the 35ha being bulldozed by Royal Group Co Ltd in Koh Rong belongs to it after it was leased to it for 99 years by the government in 2008. Phearum said the land does

  • Nine on Indonesia flight Covid-19 positive

    The Ministry of Health on Saturday confirmed nine more imported cases of Covid-19. The nine ‒ eight Cambodians and one Indonesian, aged 22 to 26 ‒ arrived in Cambodia on Thursday via a direct flight from Indonesia and are receiving treatment at the Khmer-Soviet Friendship Hostipal in Phnom Penh.

  • Kingdom’s financial sector healthy

    Cambodia's financial sector remains on a sustainable growth path despite the Covid-19 pandemic squeezing crucial industries, National Bank of Cambodia (NBC) governor Chea Chanto said. Tourism, garments and footwear have borne the brunt of the Covid-19 impact, he said, whereas the financial and agriculture sectors

  • Vietnam told to remove border tents

    Kandal provincial governor Kong Sophoan has ordered local authorities to prohibit the construction of buildings in areas bordering Cambodia and to report any irregularities immediately. Recently, Vietnamese officials removed another seven tents from the border area with Cambodia. His remarks were made on Wednesday afternoon