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en/eu-to-launch-withdrawal-process-of-trade-preferences-in-cambodia-over-rights-concerns-warns-myanmar-of-potential-similar-action#c200383

Cambodia: Interior Minister claims Cambodian civil society is not threatened and repressed; while NGOs express difficulties in operating their work

Author: Dara Mech, The Phnom Penh Post, Published on: 10 December 2019

"Sar Kheng: Gov’t to tell EU it found no evidence of NGO ‘repression’", 8 December 2019

Minister of Interior Sar Kheng said his ministry will respond to EU claims that Cambodian civil society organisations had been threatened and repressed by saying it could not find evidence to support the allegations of certain NGOs…

“Some information failed to reach us even though some NGOs have said they sent the information directly to us. We cannot act to resolve such issues when we have not received the information.

“This is the truth,” Sar Kheng said, referring to accusations cited by the EU in its decision to start the process for the possible withdrawal of the “Everything But Arms” (EBA) agreement.

He said the Ministry of Interior had not found any cases of threats or repression as claimed by some NGOs…

He said the Ministry of Interior had taken all concerns regarding the Law on Associations and NGOs (Lango) seriously and held national forums to meet with NGOs every six months…

He said Ministry of Interior officials were working with NGOs to discuss amendments to the Lango…

“Problems have occurred in the past, including the closure of an internal bureau and the postponement of the activities of some NGOs, with some being prevented from organising workshops in the last three years.

“Some NGOs have also been put under surveillance,” said Soeng Sen Karuna, spokesperson for rights group Adhoc.

He said some members of the Situation Room, which monitors elections, had been accused of being involved in a “colour revolution”, while some civil society groups working in advocacy and election monitoring had been placed in a “white book”…

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