Cambodian civil society organisations express concern over what they say are efforts to deflect scrutiny of the proposed legislation that will regulate NGOs
- From: Chim <ChimS1@xxxxxxx>
- Date: Wed, 26 Nov 2008 03:17:51 -0800 (PST)
Contents of draft NGO law being withheld by government: groups
Written by Meas Sokchea
Wednesday, 26 November 2008
Civil society organisations express concern over what they say are
efforts to deflect scrutiny of the proposed legislation that will
CIVIL society groups have expressed fresh concerns over controversial
legislation to regulate NGOs that is expected to be promulgated in
early 2009, saying the government has shown little willingness to
accept public input on the draft ahead of its submission to the
Ngy Chakrya, head of the monitoring section of the Cambodian rights
group Adhoc, said that despite the planned parliamentary debate on the
law, civil society groups that asked for a copy of the draft were told
it was not yet finished.
"If the government does not allow us to see the draft before it is
submitted to parliament, the government's decision is not
transparent," he said.
"I can't say whether this hiding away is good or bad, but it is not
the transparency one expects in a democratic country," Ngy Chakrya
"If they created this law without civil societies' attendance, it
means that they want to shut out the voice of civil society."
Yang Kim Eng, president of the People's Centre for Development and
Peace, said that the passing of the Local Associations and Non-
Governmental Organisations Law, first drafted by the Ministry of
Interior in 2006, could force some NGOs to fold.
"If this law is issued, I think it will impose restrictions on NGOs
wanting to work freely," he said. "Some NGOs will not be able to help
people because they will be trailed by the government."
If passed, the law will require the Kingdom's 2,000 or so NGOs and
charities to undergo a complex registration process and report the
sources of their funding to the government.
But some civil society groups said the government's greatest priority
should be the country's endemic corruption - not cracking down on
"I don't have an opinion as to whether civil society should be
involved with this law or not, but it is important to discourage this
law from being created," said Koul Panha, executive director of
Cambodian election monitor Comfrel.
"The government must not think of controlling NGOs, since NGOs have
obligations to serve and help people," he added.
Sam Rainsy Party lawmaker Yim Sovann also criticised the draft law,
saying that in its rush to organise a law impeding civil society, the
government was leaving large legislative gaps in other areas.
"The government should use its time better because there is no problem
with NGOs - they have helped us a lot," he said.
"We should use the time to create anti-corruption laws and laws on
judicial appointments," he added.
Nouth Sa An, a secretary of state at the Ministry of Interior, did
not comment on the proposed law in depth, but said that it had passed
the drafting stage and was awaiting further reviews within the
"We have already drafted it, but it has not been rechecked," he said.
"Normally if we have already reviewed [a law] we will permit civil
society to check it as well," he added.
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