Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Testy rebuke to UN on LANGO

Testy rebuke to UN on LANGO

Activists and NGO members protest against the controversial Law on Associations and Non-Governmental Organisations in July. On Friday, the UN cautioned the government to implement the law fairly.
Activists and NGO members protest against the controversial Law on Associations and Non-Governmental Organisations in July. On Friday, the UN cautioned the government to implement the law fairly. Heng Chivoan

Testy rebuke to UN on LANGO

The UN Human Rights Council on Friday passed a resolution on “Advisory Services and Technical Assistance” to Cambodia at its 30th session in Geneva, provoking a defensive response from the Kingdom over the body’s comments on the recently passed NGO law.

Adopted without a vote, the resolution follows last month’s nine-day visit by the new UN special rapporteur on human rights in Cambodia, Rhona Smith.

Welcoming Cambodia’s participation in a periodic human-rights review, as well as progress relating to the Khmer Rouge tribunal, Friday’s resolution noted the Kingdom’s efforts to resolve land disputes, reform its judiciary and promote decentralisation of power away from the national level.

However, it also expressed pointed concern at potential negatives associated with the recent Law on Associations and Non-Governmental Organisations (LANGO), calling on the government to “implement the law in a fair, transparent and democratic manner, including a review and, if necessary, a revision”.

Mention of the law, which has been a source of ongoing tension between the Cambodian government and UN agencies, was met with hostility by Cambodia’s delegation in Geneva. In its formal statement on the resolution, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs claimed that the clause “blatantly goes against the good will of the government of Cambodia in enacting the Law on Association and NGOs”.

Although not objecting to the passing of the resolution, the ministry maintained that “the ultimate goal of the law is to create a conducive medium for better transparency, cooperation and freedom of civil societies and NGOs”.

However, other observers of human rights in Cambodia claim the contentious law reflects only one part of a broader lack of fundamental freedoms in the Kingdom.

“The NGO law is not the only problem – it is just another mechanism through which the government has tried to give itself legitimacy in curtailing human rights,” said Ou Virak, an independent political analyst and former head of the Cambodian Centre for Human Rights.

“The bigger problem is, as the special rapporteur has always expressed, the lack of rule of law, which means there is no independence of judiciary, no guarantees of free and fair elections, or security in terms of land grabs and a host of other issues.”

Mak Sambath, chairman of the government’s Human Rights Committee, said yesterday he had not seen the resolution, but stressed Cambodia’s adherence to the rule of law.

“I agree with the Cambodian delegates,” he said. “The Cambodian government cannot go backwards, as the Law on Associations and NGOs was adopted by the National Assembly and signed by the King.”

MOST VIEWED

  • Kingdom’s domestic milk still cannot compete with imports

    Price competition and a lack of confidence by consumers are the main reasons the dairy market cannot compete with imports, said domestic milk producers. The large displays of imported fresh milk at the Kingdom’s supermarkets present a cumbersome obstacle for local producers, they said.

  • ‘Pesticide-laden cucumbers’ kill two, poison 150 in Banteay Meanchey

    At least two youths have died and 243 others are being treated for vomiting, diarrhoea, breathing difficulties, dizziness and muscle weakness after they ate cucumbers suspected to consist of pesticides. The incident happened on Saturday, said Banteay Meanchey provincial police chief Ath Khem. He told The

  • Three dead, 13 injured in collapse at Siem Reap pagoda

    At least three people were killed and more than 10 others injured on Monday after a dining hall under construction collapsed at Prasat Kokchak pagoda in Kokchak commune, Siem Reap province. Provincial police chief Tith Narong said Military Police, soldiers and local volunteers had successfully recovered 16

  • Forest Harmony’s $18M luxury villas break ground in Kampot

    Local and French joint-venture Forest Harmony has broken ground on its $18 million “second-home” Luxury Holiday Villas project in Kampot province. Century 21 Mekong CEO and local shareholder of the project Chrek Soknim told The Post that the project will comprise 90 villa units covering 18ha on a 97

  • China Unicom enters Cambodia

    China Unicom, the country’s largest telecoms operator, has expanded into Cambodia to build optical telecommunication pathways in the Kingdom as part of the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI). The Hong Kong-listed company officially opened its China Unicom (Cambodia) subsidiary on Monday to become the

  • PP-SHV Expressway on track for completion in early 2023

    The construction of the $1.9 billion Phnom Penh-Sihanoukville Expressway, which broke ground at the end of March, is on track to be completed by early 2023, Ministry of Public Works and Transport spokesman Vasim Sorya said on Monday. The 190km high-speed highway linking the capital to the