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Cambodian NGOs fear law will tie their hands

A service provided by a Catholic NGO in Cambodia
Aid workers fear that a draft law to “regulate” NGOs in Cambodia is
an attempt to control community organizations but Catholic groups will
not be affected, says a local Church worker.
The law may affect NGOs working on sensitive issues such as human
rights and may inconvenience some small village-based NGOs, according
to Rene Ayala Moreira, assistant director of New Humanity, a
Catholic-based NGO.
“But I think Catholic Church activities will not be affected,”
Moreira told ucanews.com following a Jan. 10 consultation hosted by the
interior ministry with representatives of around 400 local and
international NGOs.
The meeting was to seek the views of NGOs on the draft law made public in December.
The proposed law purports to increase transparency among the country’s vast network of NGOs and to fight terrorism and crime.
Moreira said that the draft law, which includes 11 chapters and 58
articles, requires NGOs to renew their registration every year.
“If an organization does anything sensitive, it may have problems
renewing its registration. Our Church NGOs mostly work with poor and
vulnerable communities and on development projects. We are not working
on sensitive issues,” Moreira said.
Besides New Humanity, two other Catholic NGOs – Caritas Cambodia and
the Don Bosco Foundation of Cambodia – participated in the
consultation. The Catholic directory lists 12 Catholic NGOs in the
country.
Interior minister and deputy prime minister Sar Kheng told
consultation participants that the draft law is not aimed at
threatening NGOs or violating their rights but is a step to prevent
terrorists from misusing NGOs.
Civil society organizations last week released a statement saying
the draft law confirms long-standing fears that the government desires
to control rather than strengthen civil society.
Source: ucanews.com
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Categories: Local News
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