Non-governmental Organisations (NGOs) have called on the government’s working group to speed up its internal discussion on the draft amendments to the Law on Association and Non-governmental Organisations (Lango).
However, the government said it has yet to conclude the review of the proposed amendments due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The call was made after the Inter-Ministerial Working Group, led by Ministry Interior secretary of state Bun Honn, recently met with representatives from relevant ministries to review the content of the 14 Articles’ proposed amendments from representatives of the NGOs.
The government and members of the civil society organisation met for the sixth and final time in July last year to discuss amendments to the Lango. More than 500 associations and NGOs had requested the government to review the amendments to the Law, which was passed by the National Assembly in 2015.
Yong Kim Eng, president of the People Center for Development and Peace, yesterday while expressing concern on several Articles of the Lango, said they have restricted the NGOs’ actual activities.
“Our concern is the delay in amending the law as we have made a clear statement [on the proposed amendments] before submitting it to the government,” he said.
Kim Eng called on the government’s working group to expedite their internal discussions to review the proposed amendments from the NGOs, as they [NGOs] have already completed their internal discussion.
“We do not know why the amendments are taking so long. We are waiting to see how much of the NGOs concerns will be included after the review,” he said.
However, Honn, the head of the government working group in charge of the amendments to the Lango, said the internal discussions of his working group have yet to be concluded as it needs to be thoroughly studied in the context of national and international laws.
He also pointed out that due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the meeting to discuss the amendments to the Lango was delayed as it was not possible for them to hold frequent meetings with related ministries.
Lango was passed in 2015 by CPP lawmakers amid a parliamentary boycott by former opposition CNRP lawmakers. The law was criticised over some Articles which were deemed restrictive.
The law requires 6,000 local and international NGOs working in the Kingdom to register with the government and report on their activities and finances or risk fines, criminal prosecution or even closure.
The NGOs want the government to have 14 of the 39 Articles amended or abolished, including Articles 24 and 25.
Article 24 states that local or foreign NGOs or foreign associations shall maintain their neutrality with all political parties in the Kingdom while Article 25 stipulates that local NGOs shall submit copies of their annual activities and financial reports to the Ministry of Interior by no later than the end of February of the following year.
However, Prak Sam Oeun, director-general of the Interior Ministry’s general administration department, has said the Kingdom’s law is not very different from that of many other countries.
He said Articles 30, 31, 32, and 35 of the LANGO on administrative measures and penalties are related to other Articles, making it difficult to amend them.