Laos: Government mocks UN human rights review

MLDH LMHR-LogoFIDH-LMHR: 30 June 2015

Paris, 30 June 2015: The Lao government’s failure to accept key recommendations received during its latest Universal Periodic Review (UPR) has turned the UN-backed review process into a farce, FIDH and its member organization, the Lao Movement for Human Rights (LMHR), said today.

“The Lao government’s defensive attitude and blanket denials have made its UPR a farce. The latest Laos UPR has clearly shown that Vientiane is unwilling to address important human rights issues,” said FIDH President Karim Lahidji.

FIDH-LogoOn 23 June, Laos accepted 116 of the 196 recommendations it received at its second UPR in January 2015. [1] According to Thongphane Savanhphet, the Lao government’s Permanent Representative to the UN in Geneva, the remaining 80 recommendations “did not enjoy the full support” of the government.

The Lao government’s response was particularly inadequate with regard to the issue of enforced disappearances. The government rejected all eight recommendations that called for investigations into all allegations of enforced disappearance in the country and dismissed such allegations as “not true.” In an incongruous twist, the government acknowledged the disappearance of prominent civil society leader Sombath Somphone, but accepted only four of the 10 recommendations that called for an investigation into his disappearance. In its explanation of the rejection of the six recommendations related to Sombath’s case, the government churned out stale propaganda and provided no new information regarding its purported attempts to determine Sombath’s fate or whereabouts. The government stated that its Investigation Committee was “opened to views or suggestions from all interested parties” and that concerned authorities were “still thoroughly conducting the investigation.” Continue reading

FORUM ASIA: Lao authorities apathetic regarding investigation

Forum AsiaFORUM-ASIA: 25 June 2015

29th Regular Session of the UN Human Rights Council: Universal Periodic Review (UPR) Plenary on Lao People’s Democratic Republic: Oral Statement by R. Iniyan Ilango on behalf of the Asian Forum for Human Rights and Development 

Thank you, Mr. President. We welcome recommendations made to the Lao government. We regret that the government has noted and not accepted recommendations related to the protection of human rights defenders[1] and the freedoms of peaceful assembly, association and expression[2].[3] Despite committing at first UPR cycle to work towards an enabling environment for civil society and human rights defenders (HRDs) the government continues to restrict HRDs and civil society organisations. We remain concerned over the draft Decree on Associations and Foundations, which, if enacted, will further suppress the activities of civil society in the country. Furthermore, existing laws continue to impose severe restrictions on media freedom, and the newly introduced Decree on Information Management on the Internet criminalises criticism of the government online. We urge the Lao government to repeal or amend all existing laws that restrict the rights to freedoms of expression, peaceful assembly, and association including the Decree on Associations, the Decree on INGOs, the Media Law, the Law on Publications, the Internet Law, and various restrictive provisions in the Penal Law to ensure full compliance with international human rights standards. The government must also withdraw all regressive draft laws including the proposed Decree on Associations and Foundations.

We deplore the Lao government’s unwillingness to effectively investigate the enforced disappearance of Sombath Somphone. The Lao government’s failure to accept many of the recommendations[4] related to the disappearance of Mr. Somphone stands testimony to Lao authorities’ apathy towards mounting calls from his family and the international community to conduct an impartial and thorough investigation into his disappearance aimed at determining his fate. We reiterate our call to the government to immediately undertake a thorough and impartial investigation into the enforced disappearance of Mr. Somphone in accordance with international standards and with the assistance of the international community. Continue reading

FIDH-LMHR: Conduct investigation, ratify ICCPED, stop forced relocation

FIDH-LogoFIDH-LMHR: 25 June 2015

Human Rights Council – 29th session, Point 6: Adoption of the report on the Lao PDR UPR – Oral statement

Mr. President,

FIDH and its member organization, the Lao Movement for Human Rights, regret that the Lao PDR refused to accept recommendations made by many states in several key human rights areas during its second UPR in January 2015.

LMHR-LogoWe urge the Lao PDR government to implement the numerous recommendations made to address cases of arbitrary arrest and enforced disappearances in the country. All victims of enforced disappearance and their families must receive justice. They include 12 individuals arrested and disappeared between 1999 and 2009 for their call in favor of democracy and respect for human rights. The Lao PDR must also conduct, as a matter of priority, an independent and thorough investigation into the disappearance of prominent civil society leader Sombath Somphone, with assistance from the international community. We demand that the Lao PDR establish a timeline for the ratification and implementation of the International Convention on the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearances. Continue reading

Amnesty: Conduct a thorough and independent investigation

Amnesty InternationalAmnesty International: 25 June 2015

Amnesty International urges Laos to undertake a thorough and independent investigation into the enforced disappearance of Sombath Somphone

Human Rights Council adopts Universal Periodic Review outcome on the Lao People’s Democratic Republic

Amnesty International welcomes recommendations made by 10 states in the UPR Working Group, on the enforced disappearance of well-known and respected civil society leader Sombath Somphone, who has dedicated his life to promoting sustainable development and poverty reduction. 1 His abduction was captured on CCTV footage, as he was stopped by traffic police at around 6pm on 15 December 2012 outside a police post in the capital, Vientiane. He was last seen being driven away in a white pick-up truck and has not been seen or heard from since then. 2 Unfortunately, Laos did not accept six of these recommendations; however, the government did commit to undertaking a thorough and impartial investigation into his disappearance which Amnesty International calls on it to fulfil. 3

A further 10 states urged Laos to ratify the International Convention for the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearance, 4 and Laos has indicated that it is considering ratification. 5 It is regrettable, however, that Laos rejected calls by seven states to extend a standing invitation to the Special Procedures, 6 and specifically to facilitate a visit by the Working Group on Enforced or Involuntary Disappearances. 7

The decision by the authorities to reject offers of technical assistance in the search for Sombath Somphone signals a lack of genuine commitment to uphold the rule of law and to protect the rights of its citizens. 8 The disappearance of Sombath Somphone and the failure by the authorities to adequately investigate have become symbolic of the climate of repression in Laos, with a lack of transparency and no accountability for human rights violations. This in turn has had a chilling effect on civil society and on the exercise of the right to freedom of expression more generally.

Despite comments in the opening statement by the head of the Lao delegation to the UPR Working Group on 20 January 2015 that “[t]he rights to freedom of expression, association and assembly are guaranteed in the Constitution, laws and decrees”, in practice these rights are severely restricted with the state exercising tight control over the media, the judiciary and political and social institutions. Amnesty International calls on the authorities to extend its apparent willingness to participate in the UPR process, and particularly as it seeks membership of the UN Human Rights Council in the upcoming elections, to enable independent monitoring of the human rights situation and to engage in genuine consultation on the promotion and protection of human rights.


The UN Human Rights Council adopted the outcome of the Universal Periodic Review of Lao People’s Democratic Republic on 25 June 2015 during its 29th session. Prior to the adoption of the review outcome, Amnesty International delivered the oral statement above.

Public Document
International Secretariat, Amnesty International, 1 Easton St., London WC1X 0DW, UK


  1. Human Rights Council, Report of the Working Group on the Universal Periodic Review – Lao People’s Democratic Republic, A/HRC/29/7, recommendations 121.25 (Germany); 121.94 (Luxembourg), 121.95 (Poland), 121.96 (Portugal), 121.97 (Sweden), 121.98 (Switzerland), 121.99 (United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland), 121.100 (Australia), 121.101 (Canada), 121.151 (Finland).
  2. See Amnesty International report, Laos: Caught on camera – the enforced disappearance of Sombath Somphone (Index: ASA 26/002/2013).
  3. A/HRC/29/7/Add.1, page 8.
  4. A/HRC/29/7, recommendations 121.13 (Paraguay); 121.20 (Netherlands), 121.21 (Canada, Spain), 121.22 (Uruguay), 121.23 (Italy), 121.24 (Brazil), 121.25 (Germany), 121.26 (France) 121.27 (Argentina).
  5. A/HRC/29/7/Add.1, page 3-4.
  6. A/HRC/29/7, recommendations 121.67 (Japan), 121.68 (Luxembourg), 121.70 (Ghana), 121.71 (Hungary), 121.72 (Netherlands), 121.73 (Latvia), 121.74 (Paraguay), 121.75 (Norway), 121.76 (Uruguay) and A/HRC/29/7/Add.1, page 6.
  7. A/HRC/29/7, recommendation 121.75 (Norway).
  8. A/HRC/29/7/Add.1, page 8

ຣັຖບານລາວກັບບັນຫາ ສິດທິ ມະນຸດ

ວິທະຍຸເອເຊຍເສຣີ: 25 ມິຖຸນາ 2015

Lao Cabinet Building

ຫ້ອງວ່າການຣັຖບານ ສປປ ລາວ

ທ່ານ Andrea Giorgetta ຜູ້ ອຳນວຍການ ສະຫະພັນ ເພື່ອ ສິດທິ ມະນຸດ ສາກົນ FIDH ທີ່ ບາງກອກ ໄດ້ ໃຫ້ ສັມພາດ ກັບ ເອເຊັຽ ເສຣີ ໃນ ວັນທີ 24 ມິຖຸນາ ນີ້ວ່າ, ມັນເປັນ ການຍາກ ທີ່ ສປປລາວ ຈະ ໄປ ເລືອກຕັ້ງ ເປັນ ສະມາຊິກ ສະພາ ສິດທິ ມະນຸດ ສະຫະ ປະຊາຊາຕ, ຖ້າຫາກ ວ່າ ລາວ ບໍ່ ແກ້ໄຂ ບັນຫາ ການ ຣະເມີດ ສິດທິ ມະນຸດ ໃນລາວ ຢ່າງ ຮີບດ່ວນ:

“ເຫັນວ່າ ມັນ ເປັນ ການຍາກ ຫລາຍ ທີ່ ລາວ ຈະຖືກ ເລືອກຕັ້ງ ເປັນ ສະມາຊິກ ສະພາ ສິດທິ ມະນຸດ ສະຫະ ປະຊາຊາຕ, ຖ້າຫາກ ວ່າ ລາວ ບໍ໋ເອົາ ມາຕການ ຢ່າງ ຮີບດ່ວນ ເຣື້ອງ ການ ເຄົາຣົບ ສິດທິ ມະນຸດ ນັບແຕ່ ບັນຫາ ການ ບັງຄັບ ໃຫ້ ຫາຍສາບສູນ ຂອງ ທ່ານ ສົມບັດ ສົມພອນ, ນັກ ພັທນາ ຊຸມຊົນ ໃນລາວ, ແລະ ບັນຫາ ຫລັກໆ ຫລາຍ ບັນຫາ ເຊັ່ນວ່າ ສິດທິ ໃນການ ປາກເວົ້າ ການໂຮມ ຊຸມນຸມ, ການ ສະແດງ ຄວາມເຫັນ ແລະ ແກ້ໄຂ ບັນຫາ ການ ຍຶດ ເອົາທີ່ດິນ ຂອງ ປະຊາຊົນ ຢ່າງ ແທ້ຈິງ”.

ທ່ານວ່າ ຫລາຍ ປະເທດ ຮ່ວມທັງ ສປປ ລາວ ເອງ ຢາກ ສະມັກ ເລືອກຕັ້ງ ເຂົ້າໄປ ມີ ບ່ອນນັ່ງ ໃນ ສະພາ ສິດທິ ມະນຸດ, ເພື່ອ ມີກຽດ ອັນ ສູງສົ່ງ ໃນ ວົງການ ສາກົນ, ແລະ ເພື່ອ ຢາກ ສະແດງ ຕົນຕໍ່ ປະຊາຄົມ ນາໆຊາຕ ວ່າ, ຕົນ ຈິງຈັງ ກັບ ບັນຫາ ສິດທິ ມະນຸດ ຊຶ່ງ ຄວາມຈິງ ແລ້ວ ບໍ່ໄດ້ ປັບປຸງ ຫລື ແກ້ໄຂ ອັນໃດ ເທົ່າທີ່ ຄວນ:

“ຖ້າຫາກ ວ່າ ລາວ ຖືກ ເລືອກຕັ້ງ ເປັນ ສະມາຊິກ ສະພາ ສິດທິ ມະນຸດ, ມັນ ກໍເປັນ ໜ້າສົນໃຈ ສໍາລັບ ລາວ ທີ່ ຈະມີ ກຽດ ອັນ ສງ່າງາມ, ແຕ່ ໃນຂນະ ດຽວກັນ ລາວ ຈະບໍ່ເອົາ ມາຕການ ແກ້ໄຂ ບັນຫາ ຣະເມີດ ສິດທິ ມະນຸດ ຢ່າງ ຈິງຈັງ, ຊຶ່ງ ທ່ານ ເຄີຍເຫັນ ມາແລ້ວ, ໃນ ກໍຣະນີ ວຽດນາມ ທີ່ ຖືກ ເລືອກຕັ້ງ ເຂົ້າໄປ ເປັນ ສະມາຊິກ ສະພາ ສິດທິ ມະນຸດ ສະຫະ ປະຊາຊາຕ. ໃນ ຄວາມຈິງ ສະພາບ ສິດທິ ມະນຸດ ໃນ ວຽດນາມ ກໍ ບໍ່ໄດ້
ຖືກ ປັບປຸງ ພໍເທົ່າໃດ”.

ທ່ານ ກ່າວ ຕໍ່ໄປວ່າ ໃນ ເວລາ ທີ່ ປະເທດ ໃດນຶ່ງ ທີ່ເຮັດ ຄໍາຮ້ອງ ຂໍສມັກ ຮັບ ເລືອກຕັ້ງ ເປັນ ສະມາຊິກ ສະພາ ສິດທິ ມະນຸດ, ປະເທດ ນັ້ນ ກໍຕ້ອງ ສັນຍາ ວ່າ, ຕົນ ຕ້ອງ ປະຕິບັດ ພັນທະ ໃນ ການ ປັບປຸງ ນັບຖື ສິດທິ ມະນຸດ. ທາງ ຣັຖບານ ສປປ ລາວ ກໍ ພຍາຍາມ ແກ່ຍາວ ບໍ່ ເຊີນເອົາ ຜູ້ ຊ່ຽວຊານ ດ້ານ ສິດທິ ມະນຸດ ເຂົ້າໄປ ສັງເກດ ສະພາບການ ສິດທິ ມະນຸດ ໃນລາວ, ແມ້ແຕ່ ນັກ ຊ່ຽວຊານ ດ້ານ ສິດທິ, ໃນ ການມີ ທີ່ຢູ່ ອາໄສ ຂອງ ຜູ້ ຖືກ ບັງຄັບ ໃຫ້ ໂຍກຍ້າຍ ຖິ່ນຖານ ບ້ານເຮືອນ ອອກຈາກ ເຂດ ໂຄງການ ລົງທຶນ ຂອງ ຣັຖ ແລະ ຕ່າງ ປະເທດ.

Human Rights Watch: Lao UPR response raises serious questions

Human Rights Watch: 25 June 2015Human Rights Watch

UN Human Rights Council: Adoption of the outcome of the Universal Periodic Review of the Lao People’s Democratic Republic

The Universal Periodic Review for the Lao People’s Democratic Republic shows the serious gap of Lao government statements of intent and associated plans, laws and decrees versus the minimal progress made on human rights in Laos since the previous UPR in 2010.

Laos’ declaration that it is considering ratifying the International Convention for the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearance contrasts significantly with its failure to conduct a credible, thorough and impartial investigation into the enforced disappearance of renowned civil society leader and Magsaysay award winner Sombath Somphone, who in December 2012 was videoed being taken from his car at a police checkpoint on a main boulevard in the capital, Vientiane.

Numerous governments raised Sombath’s case during the interactive dialogue yet their concerns were met by an irrelevant and unacceptable Lao government response that “cases of disappearance happened throughout the world, sometimes as a result of conflict with criminal groups.” In Vientiane, far from Geneva, authorities are less circumspect in their campaign of making unfounded insinuations to smear Sombath as somehow being involved in crime.  Similarly, it’s astounding that the Lao government claims it is “open to views or suggestions to help the investigation” when it has turned down multiple offers of technical assistance from many of the governments in this room that would help ensure a genuine investigation is undertaken.

Numerous governments made recommendations to encourage Laos to take steps to end restrictions on the rights to freedom of association, expression, and peaceful assembly. However, Laos gave no clear explanation why it passed an Internet decree that contains provisions that go well beyond internationally accepted limits on free speech contained in article 19 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, which Laos ratified in 2009. Laos has also tightened government control in the operating guidelines for domestic civil society organizations, as well as the decree overseeing the activities of international NGOs, again without explanation.

Lao accepted many general recommendations, but failed to accept those that would have represented genuine, concrete commitments for progress. This raises serious questions as to how the government actually proposes to implement the rights it rhetorically committed to.

Sombath is not an isolated case

Please-return-Sombath-Safely…the disappearance of Sombath Somphone is not an isolated case in an otherwise acceptable human rights landscape, but perhaps the most visible manifestation of a broader and deeper malaise.

We ask what potential and resolve exists to address the many other human rights issues given that Lao authorities so steadfastly ignore this one?

From a letter by the Sombath Initiative to those countries making recommendations about enforced disappearance during the Lao PDR’s Universal Periodic Review in February. The Lao government must respond to the UN Human Rights Council regarding these recommendations in the next few days.

Dear Sombath…from Shui Meng

My dearest Sombath,

books-for-children-2006bToday is Father’s Day. I keep thinking of you on this day. You always say that even though we do not have any children of our own, it really does not matter, because you are always surrounded by children and young people through the Young Volunteers’ program that you started in PADETC. You keep reminding me that the young volunteers are like your children, and since we do not have children of our own, you can spend more time working with other people’s children and help guide them and challenge them to think, and direct their energy and creativity in a productive way.

Sombath, you truly love and relate very well with children. You believe that children and young people are special and that the growing-up years are the most important years of their lives. Those are the years you say are critical for developing their values and their world-view for the future. You also believe that learning in schools and from books alone is not enough; children and young people need to learn also from real life and real experiences outside of the classroom. Continue reading

“Enforced disappearances in the Lao PDR alarming”

afadLaos is a signatory to the main international human rights instruments1 including the Convention for the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearance (ICPED); yet, the practice of enforced disappearances in the Lao PDR is alarming.

UN Logo…However, Laos has failed to prove that an impartial investigation had been conducted in regards with Mr. Somphone’s abduction. Only vague official statements have been formulated so far… This on-going situation demonstrates the Government of Laos’ lack of willingness to cooperate with the WGEID.

From a General Allegation made by the Asian Federation against Enforced Disappearance to the UN Working Group on Enforced and Involuntary Disappearances.

Dear Sombath…from Pablo Solón

Logo-Speak OutDear Sombath,

Today, I left Asia. Among all my memories, yours is for sure the most brief but the deepest. We met very shortly in Vientiane during the Asia Europe Peoples Forum in 2012 and we shook hands saying that we would continue chatting. But that never happened. A few months later, you were last seen at a police outpost and since then the authorities of Laos have never given an explanation of what had happened to you.

When I came to Asia, more than three years ago, I had just finished writing the book about my brother José Carlos Trujillo Oroza who was enforced disappeared in 1972 during the dictatorship of Banzer. I was able to finish his book before my mother passed away after searching for him for 40 years.  I must confess that when we presented that book I had the thought that the nightmare of enforced disappearances was something of old dictatorships. I didn’t think that I would face again a situation like that and even less in Asia. Continue reading