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NGO reps to meet with Interior Ministry over Lango amendments

Taing Vida / Khmer Times Share:
NGO representatives join a previous meeting with the Interior Ministry. KT/Chor Sokunthea

The Interior Ministry will meet with NGO officials next week to listen to their requests for the government to amend the Law on Associations and Non-Governmental Organisations.

In a press statement issued on Monday, the ministry said the meeting will enable representatives of local and international NGOs to elaborate on reasons and arguments raised in their previous requests that the law be amended.

Bun Honn, a secretary of state at the ministry, yesterday said that a total of 14 articles of the law have been requested to be amended by the NGOs.

“The ministry wants more information and needs to check if there is a possibility for an amendment,” he said.  “We want to listen to their concerns and see if their reasons are convincing enough.”

Mr Honn noted that the NGOs should provide documents, evidence and supporting ideas to the ministry.

Mr Honn said that during the meeting, NGO representatives will speak about their day-to-day challenges in conducting their activities and describe their dissatisfaction with the current law.

“After that, we will have a discussion with related stakeholders, including development partners, to see if they agree before we can propose amendments to the government,” he said.

The law was passed in 2015 with unanimous approval by ruling CPP lawmakers amid a boycott of parliament by the former opposition CNRP.

The law requires about 5,000 local and international NGOs working in the Kingdom to register with the government and report their activities and finances or risk fines, criminal prosecution or shutdowns.

According to documents obtained yesterday, civil society organisations have urged the Interior Ministry to have 14 articles of the law amended in order to uphold the principles of democracy and allow them to carry out their activities without any restrictions by local authorities.

In the documents, the NGOs requested the government ease registration, facilitate their field work and remove restrictions on activities in relation to human rights.

They also requested changes to procedures and definitions in the law to ensure they can carry out their activities without intimidation.

Soeung Saroeun, executive director of the Cooperation Committee for Cambodia, yesterday said the proposed amendments are aimed at ensuring better collaboration between the government and NGOs.

“After the law was introduced, it led to restrictions and misunderstanding in partnership and cooperation,” he said. “We hope the ministry will put these requests into consideration and we are ready to discuss them for any needed clarification.”

 

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