Cambodia: Calls for review of Law on Associations and Non-Governmental Organizations

Cambodia: Calls for review of  Law on Associations and Non-Governmental Organizations - Civic Space

Medical staff from Medecins Sans Frontieres (MSF) measure the mid-upper arm circumference (MUAC) of 52-year-old Sok Sophol who is HIV positive and malnourished.

ARTICLE 19, in a joint letter addressed to the Cambodian Prime Minister, calls on the government of Cambodia to immediately withdraw the draft Law on Associations and Non-Governmental Organizations (LANGO) submitted before the National Assembly and apparently scheduled for a vote on 10 July 2015.

The government has failed to engage in serious and meaningful consultations with affected groups or the wider public. At the National Assembly, the draft law has been subject only to a pro-forma review by assembly commissions controlled by the governing Cambodian People’s Party (CPP), continuing to ignore civil society concerns about the unnecessary restrictions it imposes and its potential for arbitrary implementation against critical groups and individuals.  A law affecting fundamental rights should not be given so cursory consideration.

This legislation, if adopted, would seriously damage the ability of many domestic and international associations and NGOs, as well as community-based advocacy movements, to work effectively in Cambodia.  The law would give the Interior, Foreign Affairs and other ministries sweeping, arbitrary powers to shut down existing domestic and foreign membership groups and staffed organizations, unchecked through judicial review, and to prohibit the creation of new ones, while criminalizing activities by non-registered groups.

Furthermore, the restrictions on the right to association contained in LANGO go beyond the permissible limitations allowed by international human rights law and are unnecessary for any legitimate purpose. Legislation already in force in Cambodia is fully sufficient to appropriately regulate the activities of NGOs and other associations and to allow prosecution where criminal acts have been committed.

Recent events and the manner in which the LANGO is now being rushed through the National Assembly on an expedited schedule have heightened our concern that the almost certain consequence will be to impose new draconian and impermissibly excessive restrictions on the exercise of the rights to freedom of peaceful assembly, association, expression and opinion – rights safeguarded under the Constitution of Cambodia and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), to which Cambodia is a party.



Amnesty International


ASEAN Parliamentarians for Human Rights

Asia Democracy Network (ADN)

Asian Forum for Human Rights and Development (FORUM-ASIA)

Asian Human Rights Commission

Asian Network for Free Elections (ANFREL)

Asia Pacific Forum on Women, Law and Development

Chab Dai

Civil Rights Defenders

Dan Church Aid / Christian Aid



Forum Syd

Forum on Democracy and Election (ForDE)

Global Initiative for Economic, Social and Culture Rights

Global Witness

Heinrich Böll Stiftung

Human Rights Watch

Human Rights Now


International Accountability Project

International Commission of Jurists

International Service for Human Rights

Investing in Children and their Societies (ICS)

Lawyers’ Rights Watch Canada


Knights for Peace

OT Watch

People in Need

People’s Empower Foundation

Protection International

Sarawak Dayak Iban Association

Southeast Asian Press Alliance (SEAPA)

Welthungerhilfe / German Agro Action

World Organisation Against Torture (OMCT)

World Hope International

World Renew

Yayasan LINTAS NUSA Batam-Indonesia

Read the full letter here.