Cambodia's lower house ignores critics and opposition boycott to approve controversial bill

Cambodia's National Assembly has approved a controversial draft law that critics say gives authorities sweeping powers to crack down on civil society groups that challenge the government.

Protests took place both outside the National Assembly, where hundreds of demonstrators gathered Monday, and inside, where opposition party lawmakers boycotted the vote.

None of the 55 lawmakers from the opposition Cambodian National Rescue Party's attended Monday's debate.

The 68 lawmakers from the ruling Cambodian People's party unanimously voted to adopt the bill, which still needs to clear the Senate before becoming law.

Human rights groups have widely opposed the Law on Associations and Non-Governmental Organizations. Amnesty International has called it "widely repressive." Human Rights Watch says it will "create an atmosphere of intimidation and self-censorship."