Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Protests over NGO law across country

Protests over NGO law across country

Community members hold a banner during a protest against the controversial NGO law yesterday in Svay Rieng province.
Community members hold a banner during a protest against the controversial NGO law yesterday in Svay Rieng province. ADHOC

Protests over NGO law across country

Hundreds of people across the country protested yesterday against the draft NGO law, as it was announced that the controversial legislation will go before the Senate on Friday.

Members of community groups and NGOs gathered in 13 provinces to call for the draft Law on Associations and Non Governmental Organisations (LANGO) to be transferred back to the National Assembly where it was approved amid an opposition boycott earlier this month.

Demonstrators distributed leaflets, released balloons, held community forums, and organised marches to provincial lawmakers’ offices in last-ditch efforts to stop the bill passing.

Am Sam Ath, technical supervisor for local rights group Licadho, said protesters wanted to “show their willingness not to support the [LANGO] even though it was passed by the National Assembly and show that they do not need such a law”.

“If the law is approved, [groups like] the Prey Lang Network and the Independent Monk Network for Social Justice, and youths that once campaigned are no longer permitted to and will be fined,” he added.

In Siem Reap and Preah Sihanouk provinces, police blocked the roads as marchers approached.

The draft LANGO has long come under fire from critics who say the legislation, comprising nine chapters and 39 articles, gives the government sweeping powers to restrict civil society, freedom of association and freedom of expression.

Phuong Sothea, Pursat provincial coordinator for local rights group Adhoc, who joined yesterday’s action, said the law would be used as a government tool to “stifle our voices”.

“We do not need the LANGO because the law restricts the freedom of people, unions, and communities to express themselves, which is contrary to the spirit of the constitutional law.”

Buth Kosal, who joined protests in Svay Rieng province yesterday, said he would “not vote for any lawmakers approving the law” in future elections.

He added that people in his community opposed the bill because they believed it would “not let us have freedom of expression when the authorities abuse people’s rights”.

But despite ongoing opposition to the LANGO, the Senate yesterday issued a notice, signed by its Secretary General Oum Sarith, stating that the draft will be reviewed by the Senate’s standing committee on Friday.

Eleven Sam Rainsy Party senators announced on Thursday that they will boycott the upcoming vote on the bill.

MOST VIEWED

  • Ministry issues warning over coronavirus outbreak

    The Ministry of Health on Wednesday asked the public to be on “high alert” as a new virus wreaks havoc across Asia. However, no cases have been reported in the Kingdom thus far. The 2019 Novel Coronavirus (2019-nCoV) has raised the alarm for its similarity to

  • Call for boycott of Angkor unacceptable

    Dear Editor, I wish to express my strong disagreement on the article published by Traveller for their website with the title Best places to go in 2020: 12 destinations you should avoid. Below is my opinion of the article. It is obviously free for the Traveller to

  • Probe underway after wreckage of drone with Chinese characters found

    Air Force Command spokesman Prak Sokha said on Sunday that investigations are underway regarding the wreckage of a drone that was recovered in Koh Kong province’s Koh Sdech commune in Kiri Sakor district. The wreckage has been taken to the capital for further examination,

  • Gov’t slams UN rapporteurs over Sokha trial statement

    The Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation and the Permanent Mission of the Kingdom of Cambodia to the UN Office in Geneva deplored the statement of three UN special rapporteurs who claimed that Kem Sokha’s trial was “tainted” due to irregularities. The reaction

  • No power shortages next dry season, says energy minister

    Minister of Mines and Energy Suy Sem has assured the public that Cambodia will not suffer power shortages during the next dry season. Speaking on local TV on Tuesday, Sem projected a rise in power demand during 2020’s dry season – which starts in November and

  • Gov’t slams NGO over 2019 corruption report

    The government on Thursday slammed a report that described the Kingdom as highly corrupt. Government spokesperson Phay Siphan dismissed the latest Transparency International (TI) report as “just an advertisement of NGOs to promote their own interests”. Released on Thursday, the report puts Cambodia near the