New Report Highlights Strained NGO-Government Relationship

The relationship between Cambodia’s many NGOs and the government is suffering due to a number of government obstacles, such as bribery, when it comes to the registration of NGOs and the fact that officials regularly ignore civil society recommendations, a new report claims.

The report, which is being launched today, is titled Assessment of the Enabling Environment for Civil Society, and was compiled by the Cooperation Committee of Cambodia (CCC), which seeks to strengthen relations between the two sectors.

The government appears “determined” not to treat NGOs as partners, despite the latter bringing in “hundreds of millions of dollars in goods and services each year,” the CCC said in a statement additional to the report.

“[The report] cites a range of obstacles to the effective operation of [civil society organizations], from ministry employees who seek bribes to register an NGO to police harassment of organizers and participants in legal meetings and demonstrations,” the statement says.

“The most persistent criticism is the charge that government turns its back on the concerns and recommendations that civil society brings forward from the grass roots of Cambodian society,” it continues.

The statement also quotes one unnamed interviewee as saying that “it is rare that a national government is as uncommitted to partnership with civil society organizations as is the case in Cambodia.”

One of the issues highlighted in the report is the proposed NGO draft law, which NGOs and rights groups have said could restrict their activities.

It also highlights a requirement to pay “facilitation fees” or bribes to government officials to ensure that groups get registered.

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