The Cambodian Center for Human Rights on Thursday called on donors, lawmakers and other power brokers to step up pressure on the government, which hopes to pass a law to regulate non-governmental agencies but is widely seen as a blow to their ability to operate.
The 58-article law was sent to the Council of Ministers for approval last week, after which it will pass to the National Assembly for debate and passage.
Numerous NGOs have said the draft law ignored their key recommendations, leaving it as a tool to repress groups that dissent from the views of the government and administration of Prime Minister Hun Sen’s Cambodian People’s Party.
“The point of no return is fast approaching with this law,” CCHR President Ou Virak said in a statement. “It’s very difficult to change or influence legislation once it has reached the Council of Ministers. This means that now is the time for key stakeholders to take action at as high a level as possible in order to ensure that it doesn’t pass as it is currently
On Tuesday, the rights group Licadho issued its own warning over the law, saying it could be used to violate the freedoms of expression and association.
Nuth Sa An, secretary of state for the Ministry of Interior, said Tuesday the law was now at the Council of Ministers and any suggestions must be made to them.
Phay Siphan, a spokesman for the Council of Ministers, said the council could only ensure the law was drafted appropriately. Suggestions on the law can be made when it goes to the National Assembly for Debate, and further to the Constitutional Council.