The Ministry of Interior yesterday released a statement rejecting suggestions it would use the controversial NGO Law to shut down groups.
The statement said such assertions were made “without reasonable grounds” and that NGOs were a “key partner” in ensuring Cambodia’s development, adding that the Law on Associations and Non-Governmental Organisations (LANGO) – passed in July amid heavy criticism – was merely to regulate the sector and make establishing groups easier.
In recent weeks, some state officials have characterised some critical NGOs as threats to the country’s stability. The head of the government’s Cambodian Human Rights Committee suggested the LANGO could be used to shut down groups such as rights group Adhoc because their activities violated a clause stipulating organisations should be politically neutral.
Though reassuring NGOs they would not face undue intervention by the state or individuals, the Interior Ministry’s statement did reiterate that groups must comply with the law, including the provision concerning political neutrality. Four Adhoc staffers are currently in jail on charges, panned by critics as politically motivated.