Popular protest against NGO law


On December 20, Cambodians from the country’s 24 provinces marched to the National Assembly to submit a petition against the proposed NGO law that will limit the work of civil society. Protesters carried a 230 meter long “kramar”, a traditional scarf, with over 10,000 signatures requesting the Parliament to stop the bill that restricts civil rights and freedoms.

The day before the protest the Cambodian Interior Ministry invited representatives from civil society organisations for a consultation of the law. The fourth law proposal includes some improvements, according to an analysis by civil society actors. Compulsory registration of NGOs and the ban for non-registered associations or NGOs to operate has been removed.

The new proposal regulates “Community Based Organizations,” which were not regulated separately in previous proposals. This means a de facto requirement for registration, which is particularly problematic for informal networks at grassroot level. The law does not specify the grounds upon which an organisation may be denied registration, or what may dissolve an organisation. Only Cambodians have the right to form NGOs, which excludes refugees, migrant workers and stateless persons.

Civil Rights Defenders and many other human rights organisations fear that the bill will be rapidly adopted. The NGO law will increase government control over civil society and could be used to silence critical voices.

Categories: News.
Tags: Law on NGOs.
Regions: Cambodia.