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Ministry officials meet with NGO representatives over Lango

Khuon Narim / Khmer Times Share:
Interior Ministry officials discuss Lango content. KT/Tep Sonny

Interior Ministry officials yesterday met with representatives of civil society group over amendments to the Law on Association and Non-governmental Organisations and asked them to submit their bank statements to the ministry to curb terrorist financing and money laundering.

Speaking during the meeting at the Interior Ministry yesterday, Bun Honn, a secretary of state at the ministry, said that to maintain national security and public order, all NGOs are required to produce bank statements and send them to the ministry.

Mr Honn said: “Now we have all countries in the world, including Cambodia who are required to strictly enforce the law to prevent terrorist financing and money laundering,” noting that the Kingdom is now listed on a grey list by the Paris-based Financial Action Task Force, a global money laundering and terrorism financing watchdog.

Soeung Saroeun, executive director of the Cooperation Committee for Cambodia, said yesterday civil society groups asked for a deletion of the first paragraph in the article 10 which states local NGOs should submit in writing about their operation and include bank statements to the ministries of interior and economy within three days from the date of registration. He added “We requested for a deletion of [first paragraph in the article 10] because we want to promote and maintain self-autonomy rights of NGOs that is private information.”

“A bank statement is between the bank and the organisation and the bank law states only these two parties are privy to it” Mr Saroeun said.

Lam Socheat, representative of the Coalition of Partnership in Democratic Development, yesterday echoed Mr Saroeun. “We do not intend to hide financial sources. If the ministries thinks NGOs’ activities are doubtful, they have the power to investigate it and check all records,” he said.

“This violates the management of financial sources of the NGOs so we hope that the ministry will reconsider having that article deleted,” Mr Socheat said.

However, Mr Honn of Interior Ministry said that the article about the bank statement could not be revised.

Lango law was adopted in 2015. It 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.

Civil society organisations have urged the interior ministry to have 14 articles amended in order to uphold the principles of democracy and allow them to carry out their activities without any restrictions set by local authorities.

In the documents obtained yesterday, 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.

The ministry officials will meet again on February 7.

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