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Interior Minister to hold twice-yearly fora with civil society organisations

Taing Vida / Khmer Times Share:
Members of Civil Society Organisations at the meeting. KT/ Chor Sokunthea

The Interior Minister will organize civil society and the government partnership fora twice a year to address the group’s concerns, and to gather recommendations as inputs for national development, ministry senior official Phat Sophanith said today.

In a meeting with Ivo Sieber, Ambassador of Switzerland to Cambodia on Wednesday evening, Interior Minister Sar Kheng said he considers non-governmental organisations as dynamic partners of the government to develop the country, and the ministry is organising a mechanism to pave ways for officials and civil society officials to meet twice a year.

Mr Sar Kheng said the meetings are to provide opportunities to air day to day challenges the NGOs may face in their activities at national and sub-national levels, and also to present their achievements, according to Mr Sophanith, newly appointed ministry deputy spokesman.

It will be an effective mechanism for cooperation to deal with problems and concerns that the civil society organisations encounter each year, said Mr Sophanith.

“CSO groups can report to the ministry what they have achieved so far and what the ministry can do to help them,” he noted. “Once we meet face to face often, we can understand each other and able to tackle problems easily,” said Mr Sophanith.

“The Interior Minister has committed to ensure that their presence is important and their inputs are also essential for the country’s development,” he added.

Thida Khus, executive director of SILAKA, said although cooperation between the government and civil society organisations was good, challenges and difficulties the group faced in recent years following the enforcement of the law on association and NGOs must be addressed.

“I support the Interior Minister to initiate meetings twice a year.” he noted. “The result of the fora will definitely assist to boost the legal practice of the authorities and in return, the CSO groups also have chances to raise their concerns and seek solutions.

Soeung Saroeun, executive director of the Cooperation Committee for Cambodia, said the cooperation in facilitating work carried out by civil society organizations is currently under limited.

“Most often, there are erroneous links drawn between civil society organisations and political parties and opposition movements such as a colour revolution,” Mr Saroeun noted.

According to Mr Saroeun, representatives of 170 associations and NGOs attended a government-sponsored forum at the Interior Ministry in June.

The group at that time requested the government to form a joint technical group, composed of relevant ministries and civil society organisations, to discuss and find the best ways to resolve problems related to the law on associations and NGOs.

Mr Sar Kheng recently noted that 5,328 organisations and NGOs have registered with the ministry before and after the law on associations and NGOs came into effect in 2015.

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