Will linking aid money to human rights persuade Cambodia to scrap plans for a controversial new law?A proposed law governing NGOs in Cambodia will impose severe restrictions on civil society groups and tighten control over public discourse, critics in this South-east Asian country say.
International observers and local groups have widely condemned Cambodia’s draft Law on Associations and Non-Governmental Organisations, arguing the proposed rules foist unnecessary restrictions on freedom of expression.
Now, at least one major donor is publicly linking government restrictions on civil liberties to valuable aid funds.
“In these times of fiscal constraint, justifying increased assistance to Cambodia will become very difficult in the face of shrinking space for civil society to function,” says the head of the US government's development arm.
It's not an insignificant gesture in a country still highly reliant on donor money. But will it convince Cambodian authorities?