July 7, 2017

Ministry warns NGOs to heed laws

The Interior Ministry has issued a warning to all NGOs in the country saying they must comply with the recently passed law on non-governmental associations, reminding them their financial reports are due at the end of September.

The warning, issued on Tuesday, informs all NGOs that under article 10 of the Law on Associations and Non-Governmental Organisations, they must file financial reports to the Finance Ministry.

The warning noted that some, but not all, associations have been complying with the law by registering with the Interior Ministry and submitting financial reports. It added that those that fail to comply would face legal action.

“Some associations and non-governmental organisations have failed to comply with the provisions,” the letter said. “Local associations or NGOs have to notify in writing of all accounts required for their operation before the end of September 2017.”

The letter also stated that by the end of February 2018, all NGOs must file comprehensive reports on their activities to the Interior Ministry.

General Secretary of the Coalition of Cambodia Farmers Community Theng Savoeun said the warning could be viewed as a reminder.

But Mr Savoeun added the government seems to be meddling in the affairs of some NGOs by requiring comprehensive financial and activity reports.

“We will be talking to other associations about the impact of the Interior Ministry’s announcement,” he said.

Vorn Pov, president of the Independent and Democracy of Information Economic Association, said the Interior Ministry’s announcement has highlighted concerns NGOs raised well before the passing of the new law.

“It seems the Ministry of Interior is deeply interfering in civil society’s internal affairs and strictly restricting the use of finances to help people,” he said.

Mr Pov also said that he plans to discuss the recent warning with other NGOs to see what next steps should be taken by civil society organisations.

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