The Ministry of Interior on Monday met representatives from non-governmental organisations to discuss their proposal for amendments to the Law on Associations and Non-Governmental Organisations (Lango).
The NGOs said a revision acceptable to all parties is warranted as the law affects their rights and freedom to carry out their activities.
The ministry’s secretary of state Bun Hun said the consultative meeting centred around 17 Lango articles.
“We invited the NGO representatives to a meeting to find out what exactly they based their suggestions on. We didn’t understand some of the requests they had submitted to us [in writing]. So we held this meeting to understand each other better.
“We want to know how they want the 17 articles to be revised. We want to know what difficulties the implementation of the law has caused them.
“They [NGOs] don’t even fully understand the essence of the articles that they want to be revised. They haven’t reached a consensus among themselves on how they want them amended.
“So we have asked them to hold further internal discussions to find common ground. Then they can resubmit their proposal before we refer it to the government for approval,” he said.
Hun said at Monday’s meeting, both sides discussed four articles concerning the scope and definition of the law, neutrality and reports on NGOs’ activities and finance.
“The meeting did not yield any results because of their uncertainty,” he said.
Yoeurng Sotheara, the Coalition Building, Advocacy and Networking manager at the Cooperation Committee for Cambodia (CCC), agreed that there was disagreement among the NGOs over the wording and essence of the 17 articles.
He said the NGOs will hold internal discussions to reach a consensus before another meeting with the ministry.
“We have different views on some of the articles. We will have more [internal] discussions after the Water Festival,” he said.
Rights group Adhoc spokesman Soeng Sen Karuna said some civil society organisations had faced restrictions to their rights and freedom in carrying out activities, a claim which Hun rejected.
Hun said since the law was promulgated in 2015, the government had made it easy for national and international NGOs to register with the ministry in line with proper procedures.
He said the government considered NGOs as good partners in societal development.
According to a report released by the Ministry of Interior’s General Department of Administration, there are a total of 5,523 registered associations and NGOs as of the end of last year, 2,297 of which are associations.
The report said only some 2,000 associations and NGOs had carried out their activities after registration.