Cambodian parliament passes NGO draft law despite protests

PHNOM PENH, July 13 (Xinhua) — The National Assembly of Cambodia on Monday adopted a draft law on Associations and Non- Governmental Organizations (NGOs) despite a boycott from the opposition lawmakers and protests.

All 68 lawmakers from the ruling Cambodian People’s Party (CPP), including Prime Minister Hun Sen, approved the bill by raising hands, as the 55 lawmakers from the opposition Cambodia National Rescue Party (CNRP) boycotted the session.

To pass the law, the National Assembly required a 50 percent plus one majority vote, or 62 votes only.

Deputy Prime Minister and Interior Minister Sar Kheng said currently, there are about 5,000 associations and NGOs operating in this Southeast Asian nation.

“This law does not aim to impose restrictions on the freedoms of associations and NGOs, but to protect the rights and freedoms of those organizations and to enhance cooperation between the organizations and the government,” he said during the assembly session.

While the legislative body was debating the draft law, hundreds of human rights and NGO activists protested against the bill outside the National Assembly, which was fortified by riot police and metal barricades.

The activists claimed that the draft legislation would impose restrictions on the freedoms of associations and NGOs.


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