Phnom Penh (dpa) – Non-governmental organizations in Cambodia are set to to come under a new regulatory system passed by the lower house of parliament Monday, amid criticism by international human rights groups and Western embassies.
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 by dpa.
International rights groups have expressed concern the law will be used to repress political dissent, and said it violates freedom of assembly.
The government said the move was necessary to manage the country’s more than 4,000 currently unregulated NGOs, and that it consulted 500 individuals and embassies in the course of drafting the law.
After passing the National Assembly, the law was to go to the Senate and then the king for final signing into force, steps widely regarded as rubber-stamping.