The Ministry of Interior will carry out a census of local NGOs and associations from October 10 to November 29 to obtain updated figures of how many such organisations are present in the Kingdom.

Some 5,386 NGOs and associations had registered with the Ministry of Interior since 1993, it said.

A letter from the ministry obtained by The Post on Tuesday said the General Department of Administration at the Ministry of Interior and the Cooperation Committee for Cambodia (CCC) would jointly carry out the census.

“It will be carried out from October 10 to November 29. The Ministry of Interior would like to request the Phnom Penh municipal authorities, provincial administrations and all domestic associations and NGOs to cooperate to ensure the smooth carrying out of the census and the obtaining of accurate results,” the Ministry of Interior said.

Spokesman Khieu Sopheak said on Monday that the Ministry of Interior had not conducted a census of domestic associations and NGOs since 1993 when the government first permitted such institutions to work in Cambodia.

“Some organisations have ceased operating without informing us and some have formed without telling us, so we want to know the true number of NGOs and associations currently working in Cambodia,” Sopheak said.

He said while the information collected would not be used against organisations as some had claimed, they nonetheless had the right to express their views as Cambodia is a democratic country.

However, Bunn Rachana, the director of women’s rights organisation Klahaan, said carrying out such a census at this time was unnecessary. The Ministry of Interior already had the names of all domestic NGOs operating in Cambodia and the relevant paperwork after they registered at the ministry, she said.

Klahaan, which campaigns for an end to discrimination against women, registered at the Ministry of Interior last September, she said.

“The ministry should outline the methods and mechanisms to be used, as well as how it intends to use the data collected.

“I have not yet received information on the census, so I don’t yet know what the ministry requires institutions to prepare or what documents they want,” she said.

Theng Savoeun, the director of the Coalition of Cambodian Farmer Community (CCFC), said he supported the census if the ministry wanted to collect data to help NGOs in their work.

However, he said he had concerns that the information collected could be used against organisations that had been critical of the government.

He requested the Ministry of Interior and the CCC to clearly outline their intentions so NGOs would not be concerned.

“I am not sure yet whether the census could be used to intimidate. But I want to know how it will be carried out and how the results will be used,” Savoeun said.

Since 1993, 5,386 NGOs and associations had registered in Cambodia. Of these, 3,251 were NGOs and 2,135 associations. Only 2,000 such institutions had carried out work in 2016 and 2017, the Ministry of Interior said.