NEC Criticized for Stalling Monitor Approval

Local NGOs have criticized the National Election Committee for delaying the issue of identification cards for election monitors and demanding photographic evidence of monitor training before giving out the cards.

Em Sovannary, director of the Cambodian Women’s League to Protect Human Rights for De­ve­lopment, said on Saturday that her organization applied to the NEC for monitoring cards a month ago, but has yet to receive them.

Director of the New Khmer Generation League, Noup Norin, said his institution has schooled a number of monitors on human rights and the democratic pro­cess in recent years. But the NEC has refused to issue monitoring cards to the league until it provides photos of the seminars at which the education took place.

“If the NEC continues to de­mand the photos, I will stop applying to monitor the election,” Noup Narin said.

NEC Secretary-General Tep Nitha confirmed on Saturday that in order to be issued with monitoring cards, NGOs must provide photographic evidence that they have worked to upgrade the de­mocratic process and human rights in Cambodia.

The NEC decided on this re­quirement after the 1998 election, when several NGOs were given funding to train monitors but failed to do so.

Tep Nitha said the delay in issuing the cards was because the NEC has been busy with the selection of provincial election committees. The cards will be issued soon, he said.

Koul Panha, director of the Com­­mittee for Free and Fair Elections, was critical of the NEC’s stipulations for monitor accreditation.

“The NEC mustn’t put conditions on the NGOs that want to apply to monitor the election; the NEC should facilitate NGOs in monitoring the election,” he said.

Meanwhile, Puth Kon of the Neutral Impartial Committee for Free and Fair Elections called on the NEC to help his organization get permission to perform educational dramas about the election in the provinces. In Kampot, Kandal and Siem Reap provinces, “the local authorities refused me permission,” Puth Kon said.

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