Interior Minister Sar Kheng is blaming civil society organisations for failing to report complaints about rights violations to him.
He made the statement during the fourth Government-NGO Partnership Forum held yesterday to discuss the amendment to some articles in the NGO Law.
NGOs have in the past complained about a lack of cooperation from local authorities when it comes to field work.
Mr Kheng said local authorities are now more aware of the requirement for them to work with NGOs and are more cooperative.
He said, however, NGOs are now not filing reports and instead speak publicly about matters pertaining to rights.
“We received two reports [in 2019], but some civil society organisations [publicly] said they had hundreds of cases,” Mr Kheng said. “We do not deny whether it was right or wrong, but we wonder why they did not give the information to the authorities. It seems they are hiding information from us.”
He said sub-national officials must report to him at least twice per year about local-level challenges.
“I would like to suggest that from now on we fully provide information to each other,” he added. “The government is committed to continuing its partnership with civil society organisations for socio-economic development.”
“The government is committed to pushing ahead with the next consultation meeting with representatives of civil society organisations on February 10, 2020,” Mr Kheng said.
According to the Interior Ministry’s annual report on NGO cooperation issued yesterday, there were 5,564 registered civil society organisations last year.
It said 38 NGOs were delisted after they requested the ministry to do so.
Soeng Sen Karuna, a spokesman for Adhoc, yesterday said his organisation has never hidden reports or information from the ministry. He said Adhoc has always cooperated with local authorities when surveying and solving problems.
“I think it is the authorities that are hiding information because they are afraid of what the ministry would do if they did not cooperate with NGOs,” he said.