Draft Law on Associations & NGOs: Cambodian Civil Society under Threat

Released in December 2010

The recently-released draft Law on Associations and Non-Governmental Organizations confirms long-standing fears that the government's desire for such a law is in order to control, rather than promote and strengthen, civil society. The draft law - which falls far short of meeting international standards for laws on the non-profit sector - constitutes the most serious threat to civil society in Cambodia in years. While this threat may appear to be most acute for human rights defenders, it has serious negative implications for community development and democratic participation on a broader scale.

Upon cursory examination, the draft law might appear to be positive in that it omits some draconian provisions which had been mooted by the government in the past. However, the law remains - in letter and in spirit - extremely pernicious to civil society.

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