Third draft of the Cambodian Associations & NGO law out

Last week, the Cambodian government released a third draft of the Associations & NGO law. LICADHO’s commentary on this draft of the law can be accessed here. The International Centre for Not For Profit Law (ICNL) has also released a brief analysis available here. In summary, the key issue – the fact that it makes registration mandatory – remains.

LICADHO makes the following recommendations:

• Registration must be voluntary. The law’s mandatory registration provisions violate Cambodia’s own Constitution, international norms, and multiple international conventions which Cambodia has ratified. It also puts the NGO Law in direct conflict with several other Cambodian laws, creating a confused, impossible-to- navigate legal landscape for all groups wishing to assemble or undertake a broad array of activities in Cambodia.

• The law should specify that organizations and associations are temporarily authorized to operate while their registration applications are pending.

• The government must articulate a justification for the law, particularly in light of Cambodia’s 2007 Civil Code. The current stated purposes in Article 2 are entirely unsatisfactory: “giving” rights that Cambodians already possess, and providing opportunities that already exist.9 Stating a coherent justification will allow Cambodia’s legislators the ability to assess the stated purpose of the law and determine whether it is merited or whether modifications are warranted.

The law has moved to the Council of Ministers, which in Cambodia is the final stage of review before a law moves to the National Assembly for ‘debate’ (Hun Sen’s party, the Cambodian People’s Party has a majority and it is highly unlikely that the debate would lead to the necessary amendments, or anything else fruitful). For more updates on the law, “like” the Oppose the Cambodian NGO & Associations Law page.

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