Phnom Penh, April 24, 2015: In responding to the concerns on the Draft Law on Associations and NGOs (LANGO), which announced by the Cambodian Prime Minister to be adapted by May 2015, The NGO Forum on Cambodia (NGOF) in collaboration with Cooperation Committee for Cambodia (CCC) urgently organized the meeting, where 68 participants from 54 CSOs/, attended at Phnom Penh Ecumenical Diakonia Centre (PPEDC).
The main objectives of the half day meeting were to update current status and key concerns related to the LANGO and to discuss on key strategies to earn more influential to the Government on the LANGO.
“The draft law on NGO and Association was drafted several years ago, and it became the topic to debate amongst NGOs, and development partners in 2010 and 2011. The latest draft law, the fourth edition, was delayed after NGO/CSO communities strongly advocated during that period. On the other hand, recently the government resumed the draft law and planned to adapt this law in May 2015,” Dr. Tek Vannara shared during the opening. “Eventhough, we, as the CSOs/NGOs at this moment, do not have access to the latest law either not even sure if the government would open the discussion opportunity for a proper consultation on this latest draft law.”
Dr. Tek Vannara also urged for the cooperation and collaboration amongst the CSOs/NGOs and the citizens to work and advocate together on LANGO and requesting the government to release the final draft with the inclusive and proper consultation.
Mr. Soeung Saroeun, CCC’s Executive Director mentioned during the meeting that so far, CSOs/NGOs were not able to attend the official draft of LANGO, and all the discussions were based on 4th version draft. Hence, we would request to have registration process simpler, neutral, transparent, and non-political because we are worried the progress will target the human rights NGOs. Moreover, the draft law stated that the registration process will last 45 working days, but there is not clearly stated that what happen if we do not hear the respond from the ministry within these 45 working days.
Another loop hold in the law is related to the international NGOs. There is the limitation on the administrative issues which is operation cost will be not over than 25% of the total budget. If the law is amended, we would like to have a clear definition of administration cost.
“We do not reject the law, but we would like to have a look at it and see how dramatically changes have been made from the 4th version,” he said.
The fourth draft includes concerning threats to freedoms of association and the ability of civil society organizations to support Cambodians, including lack of safeguards for independent registration, suspension and dissolution, limitations on international NGOs’ (INGO) ability to operate and implement effective programs and limitations on grassroots groups’ operations.