An independent United Nations human rights expert today urged the Cambodian Government to carefully review a draft law that may hamper the work of non-governmental organizations (NGOs) in the South-east Asian nation.
“The Government of Cambodia should not proceed with the draft NGO law in its present form,” Surya P. Subedi said as he presented his annual report to the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva.
“Of course, as a sovereign country, Cambodia is entitled to enact a law on NGOs, but the decision to adopt a law to regulate NGOs and associations is a critical initiative which requires careful attention, given its long-term implications for the development of Cambodian society,” added Mr. Subedi, the Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Cambodia.
Many of the civil society organizations in Cambodia have been playing an important role alongside the State in delivering key social services in the areas of education, health, rural development, sanitation, social welfare and the protection of natural resources and the environment, he noted.
In a news release issued in Geneva, Mr. Subedi urged the Government to take into account the concerns raised during the consultation process before enacting the law, especially the “onerous” requirements for registration and the lack of clear criteria on which registration applications will be considered.
In his report to the Council, the Special Rapporteur acknowledged that the overall situation of human rights had improved over the years in Cambodia, especially with the enactment of a number of key legislations.
At the same time, he underscored that there was still “a great deal of work to be done to strengthen the rule of law, to accelerate the process of democratization and to enhance the capacity of parliament to hold executive to account.”