Phnom Penh (dpa) – Cambodia’s Senate passed a controversial
bill regulating the work of NGOs and associations Friday, in a vote
that all but guarantees it will become law.
The Senate voted 44 to 0 to approve the Law on Associations and
Non-Governmental Organizations – commonly referred to as LANGO
– which international rights groups say will stifle the work of
Cambodia’s large NGO sector.
Opposition senators from the Sam Rainsy Party boycotted the vote,
ensuring that it would pass without any substantive debate.
The final step will see King Norodom Sihamoni sign the bill into law.
The draft law has been heavily criticized by the opposition. An
official copy has never been released to the public, although leaked
versions have circulated on the internet.
Under LANGO, all organizations in the country will be required to
register, remain politically neutral, and respect Cambodia’s
“culture, traditions and customs” according to a draft seen earlier
Any organization that threatens “political security, stability and
order” could be refused registration or fined.
Cambodia’s government, however, says that such a law is necessary
because there is currently no legislation overseeing the thousands of
NGOs and associations operating in Cambodia.