World

Cambodian Senate approves restrictions on non-governmental groups despite protests

  • Protesters are blocked by riot police officers as they march toward the Senate building during a vote on the civil society law in Phnom Penh, Cambodia, Friday, July 24, 2015. Senators of the ruling Cambodian People's Party approved the controversial draft law Friday that has been boycotted by the oppositional party. The Law on Associations and Non-Governmental Organizations tightly regulates all non-governmental organizations in the country and grants the government sweeping powers to clamp down on civil society activities it deems to be a threat to national security. (AP Photo/Heng Sinith)

    Protesters are blocked by riot police officers as they march toward the Senate building during a vote on the civil society law in Phnom Penh, Cambodia, Friday, July 24, 2015. Senators of the ruling Cambodian People's Party approved the controversial draft law Friday that has been boycotted by the oppositional party. The Law on Associations and Non-Governmental Organizations tightly regulates all non-governmental organizations in the country and grants the government sweeping powers to clamp down on civil society activities it deems to be a threat to national security. (AP Photo/Heng Sinith)  (The Associated Press)

  • Protesters sit on a main street with stickers that read: "Say No! Union, Association and NGO Laws"  during they stage a rally in front of the Senate building where senators hold their session to vote the draft of the Association and NGO Laws, in Phnom Penh, Cambodia, Friday, July 24, 2015. Senators of the ruling Cambodian People's Party approved a controversial draft law Friday that has been boycotted by the opposition party. The Law on Associations and Non-Governmental Organizations tightly regulates all non-governmental organizations in the country and grants the government sweeping powers to clamp down on civil society activities it deems to be a threat to national security. (AP Photo/Heng Sinith)

    Protesters sit on a main street with stickers that read: "Say No! Union, Association and NGO Laws" during they stage a rally in front of the Senate building where senators hold their session to vote the draft of the Association and NGO Laws, in Phnom Penh, Cambodia, Friday, July 24, 2015. Senators of the ruling Cambodian People's Party approved a controversial draft law Friday that has been boycotted by the opposition party. The Law on Associations and Non-Governmental Organizations tightly regulates all non-governmental organizations in the country and grants the government sweeping powers to clamp down on civil society activities it deems to be a threat to national security. (AP Photo/Heng Sinith)  (The Associated Press)

  • Cambodian Buddhist monks and others protest next to a mock dead body outside the Senate building where senators voted on a draft of the Law on Associations and Nongovermental Organizations (LANGO), in Phnom Penh, Cambodia, Friday, July 24, 2015. Senators of the ruling Cambodian People's Party approved a controversial draft law Friday that tightly regulates all non-governmental organizations in the country and grants the government sweeping powers to clamp down on civil society activities it deems as threatening to national security. (AP Photo/Heng Sinith)

    Cambodian Buddhist monks and others protest next to a mock dead body outside the Senate building where senators voted on a draft of the Law on Associations and Nongovermental Organizations (LANGO), in Phnom Penh, Cambodia, Friday, July 24, 2015. Senators of the ruling Cambodian People's Party approved a controversial draft law Friday that tightly regulates all non-governmental organizations in the country and grants the government sweeping powers to clamp down on civil society activities it deems as threatening to national security. (AP Photo/Heng Sinith)  (The Associated Press)

Cambodia's Senate has approved tight restrictions on non-governmental organizations, rejecting appeals from rights groups that say the law could be used for political repression.

About 400 protesters gathered peacefully outside Parliament during the vote on the bill Friday.

Senators from the opposition Cambodia National Rescue Party boycotted the session in protest against the bill, as the party's lawmakers in the lower house did last week when the bill passed there.

All 44 Senators present from the ruling Cambodian People's Party approved the bill, which now faces the formalities of a legal review and signing by King Norodom Sihamoni.

A major criticism is that the law would allow the authorities to de-register associations that they consider not to be politically neutral.