Saturday, September 17, 2011
A contentious law aimed at regulating Cambodia’s non-governmental sector has been sent back to the Ministry of Interior, following international concern that the draft as it stood could damage the country’s development, according to reports by Voice of America’s Khmer service. The NGO law was approved in August by the Council of Ministers (reported in IJCSL-N for August), despite widespread disapproval from local and international organizations, who said provisions in the draft would make it hard for them to operate and could leave them vulnerable to arbitrary punitive action by government officials. Nouth Sa An, secretary of state for the Ministry of Interior, said the law would not go to the National Assembly as planned but has instead been sent back to the ministry for reconsideration, following international “reaction.” Ministry officials will now “review and reconsider” the draft before sending it back a second time to the Council of Ministers for approval. Lam Chea, a legal counselor for the Council of Ministers, confirmed the decision. The move was widely welcomed by members of Cambodian civil society, who had worried the law would stifle organizations critical of the government through excessive red tape or court action. Many also worried it would stymie the growth of small-scale associations at the grassroots. For more information, see http://www.voanews.com/khmer-english/news/Controversial-NGO-Law-Sent-Back-for-Re-Draft-129446918.html.