Friday, January 14, 2011

Debate urged on NGO law

Four civil society umbrella organisations have urged the government to make Monday’s consultation the beginning – rather than the end – of public debate on its controversial draft NGO law.
In a statement on Wednesday, the Cooperation Committee for Cambodia, NGO Forum, Medicam and the Cambodian Human Rights Action Committee – representing more than 400 local and international NGOs working in Cambodia – called on the government to incorporate their recommendations into the law.
It also requested the establishment of a joint government-civil society working group to make further revisions.
“Our aim is to have a law that is enabling for us rather than a law that would restrict operations and also our ability to serve the people,” said CCC executive director Lun Borithy.
The groups delivered a statement and summary report of recommendations on Wednesday to the ministries of interior and foreign affairs, he said.
The report includes a host of proposals that amount to considerable changes to the law.
The groups called for registration requirements to be simplified and incorporate registration provisions from the 2007 Civil Code.
It also added that associations and small organisations should be excluded from the scope of the law.
Reporting requirements should be scaled according to an organisation’s size, the report added.
Suspension and dissolution of NGOs should also proceed in accordance with an organisation’s charter, the Civil Code and donor requirements.
“We want those recommendations to be reflected into the current draft and a second draft to be shared with us,” Lun Borithy said.
Phay Siphan, spokesman for the Council of Ministers, said the government has “no position” on the proposals as yet.
The ministries of interior and foreign affairs, which co-authored the draft, will meet to discuss the issue but “don’t have any schedule yet to make a decision on that”, he added.

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