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

  • Kingdom's GDP growth to narrow -1% to -2.9%, World Bank says

    The World Bank expects further recoil on Cambodia’s gross domestic product (GDP) growth to between minus one per cent and minus 2.9 per cent for 2020 as its main growth drivers – tourism, manufacturing exports and construction – take a beating due to Covid-19, its latest economic update

  • Vietnam: Tougher sentences for child abusers

    Several National Assembly (NA) deputies in Vietnam are calling for tougher penalties to be handed down to child abusers. They hope stricter punishments will act as a strong deterrent to prevent offenders committing further offences in the future. Extreme measures such as chemical castration were

  • Central bank to shun small US banknotes

    The National Bank of Cambodia (NBC) is considering not accepting smaller denominated US dollar banknotes – $1, $2 and $5 – from banks and microfinance institutions (MFIs) which it said are flooding its stockpile as the demand for those notes is low. While some banking insiders welcomed the move as

  • PM lauded in Covid-19 fight

    World Health Organisation (WHO) director-general Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus sent a letter to Prime Minister Hun Sen thanking him for following the WHO’s guidance and commending Cambodia’s efforts in the fight against Covid-19. In his letter made public by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs

  • Workers return, hope for salaries

    More than 600 factory workers in the capital’s Chaom Chao commune in Por Sen Chey district returned to work after the factory’s owner promised to pay their salaries in instalments until the middle of next month. On Tuesday and Wednesday, more than 600 workers gathered

  • Women detained for forcing kids to beg

    Two women were sent to Phnom Penh Municipal Court on Thursday for forcing six children to beg for money for several months at the Chhouk Meas market in Krang Thnong commune in the capital’s Sen Sok district. Phnom Penh Department of Anti-human Trafficking and