Monday, August 1, 2011

LICADHO PROVIDE COMMENT ON DRAFT LAW ON ASSOCIATIONS & NGOs: COMMENTS ON THE THIRD DRAFT


On July 29, 2011, the government released a third draft of its widely criticized Law on
Associations and Non-Governmental Organizations (NGO Law), once again claiming that the newest draft addresses the litany of concerns that have been raised by civil society. One needs look no further than the first chapter of the law, however, to discredit the government’s reassurances. Registration is still mandatory, meaning Cambodians cannot exercise their fundamental rights of assembly, expression and association without navigating complex registration procedures and securing the blessing of government officials, who would be given absolute power to create or dissolve civil society groups.

The majority of LICADHO’s comments in its briefing papers discussing the first and second drafts of the law are still relevant.1 As with the second draft, the remaining changes in the third draft are almost entirely cosmetic. The third draft does, however, make one significant improvement in that it expressly mentions a right to appeal a denial of registration. This welcome addition is not without its own issues – namely the lack of a timeline and legal standards for assessing an appeal but it is an important reflection of the impact that advocacy efforts have had to date.In its papers analyzing the first and second drafts, LICADHO detailed how the draft law would violate Cambodians’ freedoms of expression, assembly and association, and broke down its fundamental flaws as follows:

1. The law includes mandatory, burdensome requirements, and a difficult and intimidating process for organizations to lawfully register as NGOs and associations;

2. It grants excessive powers to government officials and neglects to set guidelines, which will lead to arbitrary decision-making, and potentially unreasonable registration fees;

3. It imposes intrusive requirements for organizations to report to the government, violating their independence; and

4. It places unreasonable restraints on foreign NGOs which will likely lead to greater
politicization of aid to Cambodia.


FOR MORE DETAIL PLEASE LINK THE ORIGINAL COMMENT FROM LICADHO. PLEASE CLICK HERE


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