Universal Periodic Review of Laos: a disappointing result

Press release

On 21 September 2010, the United Nations Human Rights Council adopted the Universal Periodic Review (UPR) report of Lao People’s Democratic Republic. On this occasion, the International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH) and the Lao Movement for Human Rights (LMHR), in an oral statement to the Council, expressed their deep disappointment that the Lao PDR has completely ignored the recommendation to release those detained “for participating in peaceful demonstrations, including the leaders of the Movement of 26 October 1999”, and had rejected the “overarching recommendation on the creation of an independent national commission of human rights in conformity with the Paris Principles”.

The release of those imprisoned for peacefully protesting, including those arrested in October 1999 and on November 2, 2009, is an important first step to ensure the full enjoyment of the freedoms of expression and peaceful assembly. To cease the practice of arbitrary arrest and detention, it is also urgent for the Lao PDR to adopt a policy of transparency on the conditions in its prisons and detention camps, the number of prisoners and the reasons for their incarceration.

A “large number of states participating in the exercise were content to praise the achievements of Laos in the field of economic, social and cultural rights of women, without making any concrete recommendations in that regard, while various UN bodies have previously addressed some very specific recommendations on these issues, which have been ignored so far,’’ said FIDH and LMHR in their oral intervention. Such statements from UN member States can only harm the credibility of the process of the UPR.

FIDH and LMHR stress the participation of civil society in the Lao PDR National Report on the UPR was limited to organisations under the supervision of a one-party state, led by the Lao People’s Revolutionary Party, as well as the Lao Women’s Union and the Lao Front for National Construction.’

Our Organisations firmly believe that it is inadequate to make reference to human rights guarantees in the Constitution or in national legislation, or even the ratifications of international conventions if human rights are not respected and protected in law and in practice.

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