NGOs Ask King Not to Sign NGO Law

A group of 26 local NGOs submitted a letter to King Norodom Sihamoni on Thursday calling on him to refuse to sign off on a controversial law regulating non-governmental groups in the country.

The draft NGO law, which has been widely criticized by international donors, was passed by the National Assembly in mid-July and by the Senate later that month, and is now at the Constitutional Council, the last step before it is sent to the king for final approval. 

“This law confers broad and intrusive powers upon the government that go beyond the permissible limitation allowed by international human rights law and would severely undermine the capacity of civil society organizations to operate in Cambodia,” said the letter.

Thun Saray, president of local rights group Adhoc, which was among the signatories, said he was holding out hope that King Sihamoni would reject the law.

“I think it’s agreed on for our country that the king is there to say no to the government on some things, but until now I haven’t seen that,” Mr. Saray said. “We hope, but we are not sure, that the king will accept our request.”

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