Wednesday, January 4, 2012
The highly anticipated fourth draft of the controversial Draft Law on NGOs and Associations circulated at a meeting of the Cooperation Committee for Cambodia “is still unacceptable to civil society,” attendees told the Phnom Penh Post. Fundamental problems remain with the fourth generation of the NGO Law, “which continues to be a restrictive piece of legislation,” civil society organizations said in a media release on December 15, 2011, as reported in the Phnom Penh Post. According to Voice of America, the Cambodian government on December 28, 2011 appeared to bow to pressure and took a step back on the law, with Prime Minister Hun Sen saying in a public speech he wanted the Ministry of Interior and local NGOs to continue discussions that would make the law “acceptable” to all. http://www.voanews.com/khmer-english/news/Hun-Sen-Calls-for-More-Talks-on-NGO-Law-136319558.html. Different NGOs have different had had on the new draft. Rights group Licadho has called the fourth draft another failure that is “now more confusing than ever”, while the Cambodian Center for Human Rights welcomed the positive improvements in the latest revision, “especially in terms of clarity.” Licadho and CCHR are the only civil society organizations to publish analyses of the draft law since its circulation last week. For more see http://www.phnompenhpost.com/index.php/2011121653458/National-news/ngo-draft-worries.html. The draft is available on the ICCSL website at http://www.iccsl.org/pubs/Cambodia_4th_draft_law.pdf.
In a related development, the draft Civil Code was introduced in Cambodia, also in December. See http://www.phnompenhpost.com/index.php/2011122253567/National-news/long-road-to-launch-for-civil-code.html. Many civil society organizations oppose the draft Law on Associations and NGOs because they believe the law is unnecessary in that the Civil Code provides for the formation of “non-profit” associations and foundations.