Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - NGO law draft gathers pace

NGO law draft gathers pace

NGO law draft gathers pace

The government confirmed yesterday that its draft NGO law has been submitted to the Council of Ministers, despite concerns it would restrict Cambodian civil society.

Phay Siphan, spokesman for the Council of Ministers, said yesterday that the law had been submitted last week.

Nouth Sa An, secretary of state at the Ministry of Interior, indicated yesterday that the time had passed for NGOs to submit recommendations.

When asked whether he would accept further input from civil society, Nouth Sa An said that, after meeting last Friday with NGOs, “the civil society organisations no longer have to worry about the law”.

He reportedly told Voice of America on Tuesday that NGOs would have to submit recommendations to the Council of Ministers if they sought further changes, but spokesman Phay Siphan said yesterday there were no plans for the Council of Ministers to accept further input. “They should talk with the initiators [of the law] at the Ministry of Interior and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs,” Phay Siphan said.

It was unclear yesterday how civil society groups could get further changes in the law, which would mandate NGOs and associations to register with the government and adhere to numerous reporting requirements.

Ou Virak, president of the Cambodian Centre for Human Rights, said yesterday that “from experience, it’s very difficult to change and very difficult to influence” legislation once it has reached the Council of Ministers, but warned that passing a restrictive law could end up hurting the government by turning away investors.

“This law... will hurt Cambodian businesses who need foreign direct investment,” he said, arguing that civil society groups had been the driving force behind efforts to ensure transparency and investor protections.

The United States, the most vocal of donor countries in its opposition to the legislation, said its position “remains the same” on the law’s latest draft.

“We urge the Royal Government of Cambodia to consider the views expressed by donors and civil society, and refrain from passing any new law that restricts, rather than enhances, the important role of civil society in Cambodia,” embassy spokesman Sean McIntosh said yesterday.

ADDITIONAL REPORTING BY VONG SOKHENG

MOST VIEWED

  • Diplomatic passports issued to foreigners to be annulled

    The Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation will move to annul diplomatic passports issued to those not born in Cambodia. Analysts say the move may be in relation to reports that former Thai prime minister Yingluck Shinawatra used a Cambodian passport to register as

  • Hun Sen warns Irish MP of EBA ‘mistake’

    Prime Minister Hun Sen on Saturday told former Irish premier Enda Kenny, still a member of the EU nation’s parliament, that the 28-nation bloc should not make a “third mistake” regarding Cambodia by using the preferential Everything But Arms (EBA) agreement to “take 16 million

  • The hairy little heroes saving many lives in rural Cambodia

    IN RURAL Siem Reap province, rats dare to tread where no person will, as these hairy little heroes place their lives on the line each day for the good of the local community. The rodents are the most important members of a special team, leading

  • PM warns EU and opposition on 34th anniversary of his rule

    HUN Sen reached the milestone of 34 years as Cambodian prime minister on Monday and used the groundbreaking ceremony for a new ring road around Phnom Penh to tell the international community that putting sanctions on the Kingdom meant killing the opposition. “Please don’t forget