No Concerns for NGOs: Gov’t

Source : Khmer Times  / Friday, 17 June 2016  by Ros Chanveasna

After unnamed NGOs raised concerns over the government’s use of the Law on Associations and Non-Governmental Organizations (LANGO) this week, the Interior Ministry attempted to calm their fears by denying the bill would or had violated any organization’s constitutional rights.
The ministry is understood to be referring to a letter published by the Cambodian Center for Human Rights (CCHR), written in response to the recent summonsing, arrests and indictments of four Adhoc officials in connection to an alleged extramarital affair between the opposition party’s acting resident and his mistress.
“Royal Government of Cambodia sources have suggested that the recently passed Law on Associations and NGOs may be utilized to punish – or possibly even shut down – two of Cambodia’s most prominent human rights NGOs,” the CCHR letter reads.
In response, the Interior Ministry released a statement calling the concerns “baseless and unreasonable.”
“Regarding this issue, the Ministry of Interior would like to deny all concerns that are baseless and unreasonable with intent to make false accusations against the government,” the statement said.
“The government has always recognized NGOs and associations as significant partners and indispensable in developing the country.”
Sok Ey San, a spokesman for the ruling Cambodian People’s Party, told Khmer Times that LANGO will not infringe on NGO rights, but rather ensure rights.
“Nowadays, there are about 4,700 NGOs and associations in the country, so it is necessary to set up the best laws to regulate them all,” Mr. Ey San said.
“Before the law went into effect in August 2015, the government had spent many years to study and debate it – examining one by one before it passed over to the parliament for approval,” he added, saying NGOs that dispute the law should bring their concerns to the National Assembly.
Preap Kol, executive director of Transparency International Cambodia, however, called the suggestion that NGOs bring their concerns to the National Assembly a bluff.
“They seem not to want to raise NGO concerns either nationally or internationally, but we will wait and see how the bill is implemented by the government until the next election.” Mr. Kol said.

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