In Cambodia, civil society groups reject latest draft of NGO regulation law

A demonstration in Phnom Penh to protest the interference of government with unions and NGOs in Cambodia. Photo by: Daniel Hjort / CC BY-NC-ND

Local and international nongovernmental organizations in Cambodia have rejected the latest draft of a reform proposal that seeks to regulate their operations in the country. The groups argued the draft “raises more questions than it answers.”

The fourth draft of the proposed NGO regulation law was released last week and the Cambodian government has scheduled a consultation session with civil society groups and NGOs, which said they planned to boycott the session.

A number of NGOs and civil society groups acknowledged the new draft legislation is an improvement over previous versions. It addressed some issues NGOs identified as problematic, including eliminating a provision that requires groups to notify local officials of their planned activities.

But the revisions are not enough and the central requirement for all NGOs to register remains, the groups said, according to the Guardian.

“This new draft raises more questions than it answers,” said Naly Pilorge, director of Licadho, the Cambodian League for the Promotion and Defence of Human Rights. “The stakes are too high to simply wait and see. These questions need to be answered before the law is passed, not after.”

International organizations, meanwhile, have renewed calls for donor intervention.

“International donors have one final chance to take a stance. They must persuade the government to delay the consultation on the fourth draft until January and make sure they do not adopt a law which threatens to severely restrict civil society’s right to freedom of association and expression,” said Simon Taylor of the U.K.-based NGO Global Witness, as quoted by the Guardian.

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About the author

  • Ivy Mungcal

    As former senior staff writer, Ivy Mungcal contributed to several Devex publications. Her focus is on breaking news, and in particular on global aid reform and trends in the United States, Europe, the Caribbean, and the Americas. Before joining Devex in 2009, Ivy produced specialized content for U.S. and U.K.-based business websites.