Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Ministry to review NGO draft law amendments

Ministry to review NGO draft law amendments

Ministry to review NGO draft law amendments

Local civil society groups have submitted suggested revisions of the Kingdom’s proposed NGO Law to the government, though it remains to be seen how the recommendations will be reflected in the legislation.

Nuth Sa An, secretary of state at the Ministry of Interior, said he had submitted recommendations proposed by NGOs to Minister Sar Kheng.

“Many points they said need to change have been sent to Sar Kheng for approval,” he said. “There will be a meeting again with NGOs,” he added.

After the government held a consultative meeting on January 10, four umbrella organisations – the Cooperation Committee for Cambodia, Medicam, NGO Forum on Cambodia and the Cambodian Human Rights Action Committee – requested further public debate and a joint government-civil society committee charged with making revisions to the law.

Instead, the Ministry of Interior invited their leadership to an all-day meeting, which took place on Friday and also included a representative from Oxfam.

Lun Borithy, executive director of CCC, said the government had also “committed to sharing a second draft” of the law before submitting it to the Council of Ministers. However, there are no plans to hold another large consultation meeting, he said.

“There was some sort of verbal agreement that there is a need to change [the law] and further look into it,” Lun Borithy said.

“Overall, about 80 percent of recommendations put forward by civil society were taken on board.”

He acknowledged, however, that the government made no guarantees the proposed changes would be reflected in the final legislation.

“It was only a discussion, we can only be sure that the comments are fully accepted when we see the second draft.”

NGOs have raised concerns that the mandatory registration process in the draft law would be too burdensome for community-based organisations or informal groups and would violate the right to associate.

But Nuth Sa An said he advanced a compromise to Sar Kheng that would allow community-based groups that are part of umbrella organisations to avoid registration.

“Now we will allow the central-based NGOs to list their community NGOs so that we recognise them and they have no need to get licences,” he said. “If the central NGO does not recognise them, the small NGO must file for a licence so that it’s easy to manage them.”

Sok Sam Oeun, director of the Cambodian Defenders Project, said the government had agreed to insert language allowing organisations to appeal a rejected application for registration to the courts.

Provisions of the law affecting international NGOs were not discussed because they fall under the jurisdiction of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Lun Borithy said.

Ou Virak, president of the Cambodian Centre for Human Rights, said the government could easily change the law outright by avoiding further public debate.

“You could get the government to agree verbally, but I wouldn’t be surprised if most of these things mentioned are not written down,” he said.

“Because of that, the outcome of the law could be something else completely different.”



  • Phnom Penh placed in two-week lockdown

    The government has decided to place Phnom Penh in lockdown for two weeks, effective April 14 midnight through April 28, as Cambodia continues to grapple with the ongoing community outbreak of Covid-19, which has seen no sign of subsiding. According to a directive signed by Prime Minister

  • Cambodia on the verge of national tragedy, WHO warns

    The World Health Organisation (WHO) in Cambodia warned that the country had reached another critical point amid a sudden, huge surge in community transmission cases and deaths. “We stand on the brink of a national tragedy because of Covid-19. Despite our best efforts, we are

  • Hun Sen: Stay where you are, or else

    Prime Minister Hun Sen warned that the two-week lockdown of Phnom Penh and adjacent Kandal provincial town Takmao could be extended if people are not cooperative by staying home. “Now let me make this clear: stay in your home, village, and district and remain where

  • Vaccination open to foreigners in Cambodia

    The Ministry of Health on April 8 issued an announcement on Covid-19 vaccination for foreigners residing and working in Cambodia, directing the Ministry of Labour and Vocational Training and local authorities to register them. Health minister Mam Bun Heng, who is also head of the inter-ministerial

  • Ministry names types of business permitted amid lockdown

    The Ministry of Labour and Vocational Training singled out 11 types of business that are permitted to operate during the lockdown of Phnom Penh and Takmao town, which run through April 28. Those include (1) food-processing enterprises and slaughterhouses; (2) providers of public services such as firefighting, utility and

  • Culture ministry: Take Tuol Sleng photos down, or else

    The Ministry of Culture and Fine Arts has told Irish photographer Matt Loughrey to take down the photos of Khmer Rouge victims at Tuol Sleng Genocidal Museum which he allegedly colourised and altered to show them smiling. The ministry said Loughrey's work is unacceptable, affecting