Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - ‘NGOs may operate without restriction’



‘NGOs may operate without restriction’

Content image - Phnom Penh Post
Interior Minister Sar Kheng issues a directive to allow registered civil society organisations to carry out activities without restriction or prior notice. Heng Chivoan

‘NGOs may operate without restriction’

Minister of Interior Sar Kheng on Tuesday instructed municipal and provincial authorities to facilitate the activities of civil society organisations and local communities without restriction and prior notice as previously required.

“NGOs and associations, including local communities that have already registered with the ministry, have complete freedom to legally carry out activities without having to inform local authorities three days beforehand as they did before,” Sar Kheng said in a directive dated November 27.

The instruction came nearly one month after the interior minister issued a similar guideline on cooperation between authorities at all levels with civil society groups.

Soeung Sen Karuna, the senior investigating officer for rights group Adhoc, welcomed the directive.

“There have been [negative] reactions from NGOs in various fields including human rights, advocacy and election observation to authorities’ restriction on their activities."

“We have demanded wider space for our activities and it’s good to see the Ministry of Interior issue guidelines and create task forces to facilitate our activities,” he said.

Karuna said while the pro-NGO directive is a good sign, he worries that the instruction may fall on deaf ears.

“I don’t know how good the local authorities’ actual implementation will be. Generally, we welcome the directive but we want it to be widely disseminated, particularly by pro-government media outlets."

“Over the past years, any action against civil society organisations had been broadcast by pro-government media, so we want them to also publicise the directive to help relevant authorities understand [our rights],” he said.

Theng Savoeun, the director of the NGO Coalition of Cambodian Farmer Community (CCFC), echoed Karuna’s concerns.

“We hope local authorities will follow the directive when dealing with civil society organisations and when the NGOs carry out their activities,” he said.

Savoeun cited examples of actual practices over the past years, saying local authorities have been known to restrict NGOs’ activities despite the fact that they have already registered with the ministry.

San Chey, the executive director of the Affiliated Network for Social Accountability, said the directive is apparently aimed at revising the existing law to provide more space for NGOs.

“It remains to be seen whether the directive will become effective. We’ll wait and see how the new directive and task forces created by the Ministry of Interior will help civil society organisations. We will continue to observe how much the authorities at sub-national level can implement this,” he said.

MOST VIEWED

  • Would you like fries with that? US burger chain makes Phnom Penh debut

    California-based The Habit Burger Grill restaurant chain is all set to serve up a delicious array of charbroiled burgers and sides at its newest international location in the centre of Phnom Penh. The Habit is “renowned for its award-winning Charburgers grilled over an open flame,

  • Angkor provides ‘valuable’ water storage

    The Apsara National Authority (ANA) has stored millions of cubic metres of water at reservoirs in the Angkor area after Cambodia experienced a series of rainstorms over the last few days. The storing of the water, besides serving temple conservation, will also be used to

  • Floods prompt evacuations in Kampong Speu

    Rain-induced floods and water flowing from Kampong Speu province have submerged the houses of 1,527 families living close to the Prek Thnot River in Spean Thma, Tien, Kong Noy and Roluos communes in Phnom Penh’s Dangkor district, according to data from local authorities. Spean Thma

  • Banteay Meanchey floods kill one more as death toll reaches 15

    As floodwaters start to recede in Pursat, Battambang and Pailin provinces and Phnom Penh, Banteay Meanchey continues to bear the brunt as one more person was killed on Monday, bringing the total number of flood-related deaths to 15 in the province this month. Banteay Meanchey provincial

  • Serving coffee with a side of robots

    The eye-catching glass building surrounded by greenery at the intersection of Streets 371 and 2002 in Phnom Penh’s Sen Sok district is more than just another coffee shop where you can while away a few hours. UrHobby House cafe is filled with robots and characters from

  • Cintri strike ends, workers’ contracts to be terminated

    CINTRI (Cambodia) Ltd rubbish collectors who have been on strike for the past 13 days agreed to return to work starting Wednesday evening after the company agreed to terminate their contracts at the end of January next year and provide seniority payments and other benefits to