In October of 2017, months before Cambodia’s national elections, the government released a new rule requiring prior permission from any civil society or nonprofit organization wishing to hold a public event.
The new rule effectively allowed authorities to prohibit an event without any justification or avenue to appeal. As a result, the government was able to limit the freedom of association significantly. Authorities used the new rule to prevent communities and civil society organizations from holding meetings, conducting training on political participation, and organizing voter registration drives.
The Fundamental Freedom Monitoring Project (FFMP) is a multi-year project that examines the extent to which the freedoms of association, expression, and assembly are exercised in Cambodia. Its main goals are to report on fundamental freedoms in the country and strengthen local advocacy efforts with compelling data.
In September of 2018, the FFMP published its Second Annual Report. The report systematically and objectively documented events that were prohibited or shut down based on the new rule. Local organizations used this data to push back at the local, national, and international levels.
In October 2018, these efforts succeeded. The Cambodian government repealed the prior-permission requirement. With this rule no longer in effect, organizations are better able to do their work without undue interference. The FFMP has proven to be a key tool for Cambodian civil society, giving them data to strengthen their work towards an improved legal environment.
Published: December 2019