Law on Associations and Non-Governmental Organizations (LANGO)
Currently, CSOs are able to operate openly in Cambodia with little interference from government. International NGOs are required to register with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation (MoFAIC) while local NGOs are required to register with the Ministry of Interior (MoI). The draft Law on Associations and NGOs (LANGO) could change this and give government authorities far-reaching power to control the rights of citizens to organize and express themselves.
The draft law enforces mandatory registration of all CSOs, which is a clear violation of freedom of association and other fundamental rights. Registration requirements are complex and burdensome and would severely restrict the operations of rural grassroots groups, informal networks and associations with limited resources. It gives authorities unbounded discretion to approve registration applications, with few guidelines to transparently steer these decisions. There is an undefined appeals process if registration is denied but as this takes place through the court system is likely to be time consuming and biased. Many of the provisions in the law are directly contrary to Cambodia’s own Constitution and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, which Cambodia has ratified.
CCC's Engagement on the LANGO
Since 2008, when the RGC announced its intention to introduce the LANGO, CCC has been deeply involved in this issue. It is well known that the entire NGO community will be affected by the legislation and it has been a priority for CCC to facilitate and co-ordinate civil society’s concerns and responses in partnership with NGO Forum, MEDiCAM and CHRAC.
CCC has engaged NGO leaders, representing all sectors at the local and national level, and from both the national and international NGOs. The issues and approaches have been discussed with NGOs and other stakeholders in a variety of forums; there has been strategic dialogue and opportunities promoted for civil society to influence the development of this legislation.
The LANGO in Cambodia comes at a time when there is an increased focus on governance issues for NGOs at a global level. The reasons for this come from the Aid Effectiveness agenda (see link) coupled with the global recession. More than ever, NGOs have to prove that they can be effective stewards of development funding and deliver programs that are truly accountable to the communities they serve.
CCC has responded to these different demands for good governance with the focus on transparency and accountability, through a series of regional workshops. This agenda includes Aid Effectiveness, the NGO GPP (see link) and the LANGO. This has provided valuable space for discussion and learning about the LANGO. CCC also used this opportunity to establish a regional focal group of representatives from local NGOs to ensure good communication and linkage between provinces and Phnom Penh based activity.
Other activities on the issue have included high level strategic workshops, dialogue with development partners, and links with international organizations including CIVICUS, the International Federation for Human Rights and Human Rights Watch. The issue has also been discussed with the UN Special Rapporteur for Human Rights, Dr Surya Subedi.
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Recommendation & analysis of the Law:
Letters to seek advice on NGO law:
Letter to concerned institution on the 3rd draft on NGO Law:
Other letters of support:
For further information on the LANGO see below: