Saturday, August 13, 2011

Is there any regulations provide authority to Ministry of Interior of Cambodia to suspend activities of Non Governmental Organization?

Recently, Ministry of Interior Issued its letter to suspend an Non Governmental Organization. The letter just provided reason that this association didn’t correct the structure of leadership management and amend its articles of incorporation (statute). Please link here in Khmer version to see Ministry of Interior decision.

The below is the analysis of Ministry of Interior decision to suspend NGOs activities:
Ministry of Interior has only one regulation that covers NGOs activity. On July 6, 1994(link here to see it in Khmer version)—- “…the permission issuance, in order to have the uniform throughout the country, for various associations/NGOs to operate one’s offices and activities, so as to facilitate the management of those associations/NGOs and in compliance with the actual situations that did not have the law on associations yet, the Ministry of Interior would not delegate its authorization to the provinces/municipalities for issuing permission to the association/NGO situated thereof. In this matter, if there would have any association/NGO requested the permission from the provincial/ municipal administration to operate its office and activities thereof, please His Excellency introduced them to come and request the permission from the Ministry of Interior in advance. In case, any association /NGO that had already positioned its office in the province/municipality and had purposes to conduct the vocational teaching, to launch its assembly, or to conduct the seminar or various gatherings, such an association/NGO must have informed the local authority within five (05) days in advance”.

The government may suspend NGOs activity in condition of such NGOs do something illegally in which influence the public interest. In Civil Code and Law on Implementation of Civil Code provided authorization to Minster of Justice to issue its warning letter to the legal entity. If such organization still not corrects its activity, the Minster of Justice can file a complaint to court to delete such association from the list, please read article 65 paragraph 3 of Civil Code.  However Civil Code is not entered into force yet so Minister of Justice cannot use his or her authority to do that.
Nowadays NGOs are under the authority of Ministry of Interior (MoI), if MoI wants to suspend the NGO activity, MOI can file a complaint to Court to suspend such NGOs activities based Code of Civil Procedure of article 531 paragraph 3 (provisional disposition for establishing of provisional status) “Disposition establishing a provisional condition until a judgment becomes final and conclusive, where this is necessary in order to avoid significant damage or imminent risk [to the creditor] in relation to the right in dispute”.For more information regarding the procedure of Preservative Relief Ruling, please read from page 193 of Textbook on Compulsory Execution and Preservative Relief, published by Ministry of Justice of Cambodia, 2009. Please download this book in Khmer version, if you need for your reference.

The organization that received the order of suspension activities from MoI, it has right to make objection against such decision by filing a complaint to court of first instance based on article 38 and 128 new (old article 109) of Cambodian Constitution.
The above decision it’s thought that it’s unconstitutional because based on article 42 of constitution in 1993 provided freedom of association. Cambodian people also enjoy their freedom of association base on ICCPR, ICESR and so on (article 31 constitution). For more information, please link the book on Legal Framework of NGOs in Cambodia, page 8 and from page 29 in English version and Page 10 and from page 34 of Khmer Version. 

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