Non-governmental agencies continued to express concern over a proposed law to regulate the sector on Tuesday, as the draft moved closer toward approval for debate.
The government says it needs the NGO law to better manage the thousands of organizations operating in the country, but critics say it will hamper their work and make it harder for smaller associations to form.
The Ministry of Interior’s final draft of the law was sent Friday to the Council of Ministers, which must approve it before it goes to the National Assembly for debate.
Sok Sam Oeun, executive director of the Cambodian Defenders Project, said most of the main recommendations from the NGO community were not put into the final draft of the law. Many organizations have said they feel the law requires a heavy amount of reporting and makes them vulnerable to closure for government dissent.
There are articles in the draft that “narrow the freedom of NGOs and associations for their establishment,” Sok Sam Oeun said. “I still do not favor this law.
Ham Sunrith, deputy director for monitoring at the rights group Licadho, said while some points from NGOs had been added to the draft, others remain “worrisome.”
The draft still contains registration and reporting conditions that many find troubling, he said.
Ou Virak, president of the Cambodian Center for Human Rights, said the new draft was improved but some articles remain “unclear.”
“So with the unclear interpretation, it’s not good for the rights of participation of associations and especially individual rights,” he said.
Nouth Sa An, secretary of state for the Ministry of Interior, said that if organizations want to make more recommendations, they’ll have to do so through the Council of Ministers.