The Government and Civil Society Organizations Disagree over Draft Law to Control Non-Government Organizations – Thursday, 20.11.2008

Posted on 21 November 2008. Filed under: Week 587 |

The Mirror, Vol. 12, No. 587

“Phnom Penh: Officials of the Cambodian government announced their intention to adopt a law to control non-government organizations during the fourth term government in order to solve problems and irregularities of civil organizations in Cambodia. However, civil society and human rights organizations, that do significant work, are opposed to the intention to create this law, because they think that it will reduce their activities and restrict the rights of these organizations.
“During a workshop about human rights, democratization, and reforms, which were discussed by state and by civil society representatives, that had been organized by the Commission of the European Union in the afternoon of 19 November 2008, Mr. Ouch Borith, a secretary of state of the Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, said that non-government organizations have proceeded with their activities nearly three decades freely since 1980 in Cambodia. The Royal Government recognizes and welcomes the role and the essential involvement of civil society organizations in developing and in restoring the economy and society, and in promoting democracy, human rights, and dignity. The Royal Government always encourages and supports them, and continues to strengthen cooperation with civil society. In this sense, they serve as a sector of reforms of law and of encouragement for the rule of law; therefore it is time that Cambodia must have legislation (an ‘organization law’) that everyone understands and follows in an open society.
“Regarding the draft law to control non-government organizations, an undersecretary of state of the Ministry of Interior, Mr. Sieng Lapresse, presented, in English, during the workshop, the [draft] organization law, consisting of ten chapters and thirty five articles, that has been being drafted since 1995, following laws in the Sangkum Reastr Niyum era as the basis, as well as organization laws of France and of other countries in Asia. But so far, the organization law is still a draft, because it is opposed by some organizations.
“On the other hand, Mr. Sieng Lapresse added that the Cambodian government is already committed that the organization law will be adopted during the fourth term, although some organizations argued with reasons against it. The present draft is the third organization law draft, in which nine articles were corrected at a cost of more than US$200,000 in aid, and it was revised by the Ministry of Interior and other relevant ministries, with the participation by experts of the World Bank.
“Mr. Sieng Lapresse went on to say that the government makes efforts to encourage the adoption of an organization law, so that the government can deal with irregularities of civil society organizations, and also, so that the Ministry of Interior can list statutes of structures for describing goals and intentions, management, roles, and ways to recruit and dismiss staff. Especially also to regulate affairs so that the government can know the resources of civil society organizations.
“As soon as the presenters of the government had finished their presentations about the plan for the creation of an organization law, the president of the Cambodian Human Rights and Development Association – ADHOC – Mr. Thun Saray, who represented the civil society in Cambodia, said that it has been fifteen years already since civil society organizations proceed with their activities in Cambodia without any problem. During that period, civil society organizations were involved a lot to develop the country. Being partners of the government, civil society organizations provide assistance, paid attention and provided materials as well as training, in all sectors.
“Mr. Thun Saray continued that during these fifteen years, civil society organizations are always under the control by different laws of the country, including the Constitution, the internal criminal law, announcements by the Ministry of Interior, and some other laws, which assured that civil society organizations acted under the control of sufficient laws, so that it is not necessary to have additional laws. In addition, the control of the finances of civil society organizations – through which, as some said that they might become sources for terrorism – are generally and regularly monitored by international audit companies as required by donors. So there is no corruption or irregularity.
“Also joining to listen to the discussion, a Sam Rainsy Party parliamentarian, Mr. Son Chhay, supported what civil society organizations stated above. Parliamentarian Son Chhay said that normally, our country does not have national institutions functioning with responsibility; therefore, to provide freedom to civil society organizations to fulfill their duties properly without threats and restrictions is critical. The government should pay more attention to discuss the adoption of an anti-corruption law, so that all institutions can fulfill their work successfully according to the Rectangular Strategy of the new term government.
“Nevertheless, the head of the Royal Government, Samdech Dekchor Hun Sen, stated clearly during the opening of the first session of parliament of the fourth term Royal Government on 26 September 2008, that during this fourth term government an organization law will be adopted together with the anti-corruption law. Rasmei Kampuchea, Vol.16, #4747, 20.11.2008

Newspapers Appearing on the Newsstand:
Thursday, 20 November 2008

Kampuchea Thmey, Vol.7, #1799, 20.11.2008

  • Cambodia Encourages Least Developed Countries to Try to Make the Economy Challenging
  • Venezuela Will Construct Nuclear Plants with Assistance by Russia [according to President Hugo Chavez]

Khmer Sthapana, Vol.1, #143, 20.11.2008

  • Citizens’ Houses of More Than 300 Families Were Burnt and Removed in Anlong Krom Village [eviction by Brigade 31; seven citizens were injured – Kompong Speu]
  • 2,000 Garment Workers of the Full Fortune Knitting Company’s Branch Demonstrate [because of bad working conditions – they are forced to work without days off on Sundays – otherwise their salaries will be cut, and they cannot request for leave for marriages, for parents’ death, or for very important duties; the working environment is bad because there are not enough toilets, no dining room, and when falling ill in the factory, there is no medical care]
  • Citizens and Students Welcome Reduced Fuel Prices [prices are not yet in line with fuel prices at international markets – the normal quality fuel costs Riel 3,650 – approx US$0.90 – per liter at Sokimex]
  • Englishman’s Body [who hanged himself] Found in Taxi Station [Poipet – in a letter for his family, he wrote that if he returned home, he would die or be jailed]

Koh Santepheap, Vol.41, #6504, 20.11.2008

  • The Khmer Rouge Tribunal Continues to Keep Three Former Khmer Rouge Leaders in Detention [Ieng Sary, Ieng Thirth, and Khiev Samphan] for One More Year; the Hearing for Khiev Sampan’s Appeal [delayed because of documents not translated timely into French] Is Scheduled for 4 December 2008
  • All Rumors [that Suon Pheakdey, known as DJ Ano, was cut all over the body by an anonymous woman, the wife of an Excellency] Are Not True; Ano [a TV presenter] Said that She Was Just Traveling when There Was Unfortunate Information about Her [she said so in a program of TV3 on 19 November 2008]

Moneaksekar Khmer, Vol.15, #3618, 20.11.2008

  • A Civil Society Organization [Committee for Free and Fair Elections – COMFREL – Criticizes that the National Assembly Is under the Control of [only one,] the Ruling Party [because the position of the president, of the vice-presidents, and of chairpersons of the commissions of the National Assembly are all controlled by the Cambodian People’s Party]
  • The World Bank Encourages the Ministry of Land Management, Urban Planning, and Construction to Investigate Corruption of Land Officials [who are accused to extort money from villagers recently for the creation of land planning in Kandal and Prey Veng]

Rasmei Kampuchea, Vol.16, #4747, 20.11.2008

  • The Government and Civil Society Organizations Disagree over Draft Law to Control Non-Government Organizations
  • National Budget for 2009 Will Be Presented for Discussion with Non-Government Organizations [on 20 November 2008]
    Gunnar Bergström [a Swedish photographer who visited Cambodia during the Khmer Rouge Regime [now expressed deep regret that he supported that regime and apologizes to the Cambodian people; his photos are exhibited at the Reyum Institute of Art and Culture]

Have a look at the last editorial – you can access it directly from the main page of the Mirror. – And please recommend us also to your colleagues and friends.

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