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Myanmar: NGO Law Imposes Severe Restrictions on Civil Society

21 August 2023.

The Centre for Law and Democracy (CLD) released today its Analysis of the Organisation Registration Law, or NGO Law, which was adopted in late 2022 by Myanmar’s military junta, which has claimed lawmaking authority since the February 2021 coup. The NGO Law imposes substantial restrictions on both domestic and international NGOs. It makes ordinary NGO operations administratively complex and dependent on the whims of the military, undermining NGOs’ ability to respond to the widespread humanitarian needs in Myanmar.

“The NGO Law is only the latest in a long series of attacks on independent civil society in post-coup Myanmar,” said Toby Mendel, Executive Director, CLD. “This Law provides a legal basis for existing practices of harassment and sends a message that NGOs are expected to align their activities and views with those of the military.”

The Analysis assesses the NGO Law based on international human rights standards governing freedom of association and expression. It highlights numerous areas where the NGO Law fails to respect those standards, including:

    • Mandatory registration requirements for all NGOs, with criminal penalties for operating an unregistered NGO.
    • NGO registration boards which are not independent and are vulnerable to military interference.
    • Burdensome registration requirements, including government letters of recommendation.
    • Broad authority for NGO registration boards to sanction NGOs on ambiguous grounds, including to cancel their certificate to operate.
    • New crimes which could cover ordinary NGO activities and peaceful advocacy.
    • Mandatory quarterly activity reports and other intrusive oversight requirements.
    • Prohibitions on any activity which relates even indirectly to political, religious or economic matters.

The full Analysis, including an Executive Summary, is available in both English and Burmese.

For further information, please contact:

Laura Notess
Senior Legal Officer
Centre for Law and Democracy
Email: laura@law-democracy.org
+1 782 234 4471
twitter: @law_democracy

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