The Cambodian Center for Human Rights has joined a growing list of rights groups calling on lawmakers in Phnom Penh to stop government-proposed legislation regulating non-governmental aid organizations.
A CCHR statement Thursday said the grouping fears the legislation in its present form will be used by the government as "a tool to repress groups" that disagree with the views of the government and views of Prime Minister Hun Sen's Cambodian People's Party.
The statement also said "the point of no return is fast approaching" with the legislation, which is currently under review by the Council of Ministers.
Phnom Penh proposed regulatory measures last year that critics say will create a burdensome registration process for NGOs, and allow the government to deny NGO applications without any avenue for appeal. The United States raised "serious concerns" in January over the draft legislation.
The rights groups, including Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International, argue that the government has failed to adequately explain why existing laws and regulations governing civil society are not sufficient.
Both groups, and now the Cambodian Center for Human Rights, are calling on international donors to privately and publicly oppose the legislation in its current form.