Ensure the poor have the right to participate

Press release
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(Paris,) The Lao government must ensure that people living in poverty are able to participate in a free, active, and meaningful manner in key decision-making processes that affect their lives, FIDH and its member organization Lao Movement for Human Rights (LMHR) said today.

The two organizations made the call in conjunction with their submission to the United Nations (UN) Special Rapporteur on extreme poverty and human rights. The Special Rapporteur, Prof. Philip Alston, will conduct an official visit to Laos from 18 to 28 March 2019.

“For all the talk about poverty reduction, the Lao government has failed to listen to the voices of those who live in poverty. We urge the government to take the Special Rapporteur’s upcoming visit as an opportunity to re-think its deeply flawed policies that continue to exclude and disempower entire communities in Laos.”

Debbie Stothard, FIDH Secretary-General

In their joint submission, FIDH and LMHR detail some of the serious human rights violations that disproportionately affect those living in poverty and completely exclude them from participating in political processes and from seeking redress for human rights violations.

These include violations of: the right to participate in the conduct of public affairs and to vote and be elected in genuine elections; the right to seek redress for human rights violations; the right to a fair trial; the right to freedom of opinion and expression, which includes the right to seek and receive information; and the right to freedom of association.

These rights are guaranteed by international instruments, such as the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) and the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (ICESCR), to which Laos is a state party.

“Infrastructure and investment projects have disproportionately affected poor individuals and communities in Laos but such projects continue to be designed and implemented without their adequate participation. A new rights-based approach to participation is urgently needed in order to ensure that those living in poverty can make their voices heard.”

Vanida Thephsouvanh, LMHR President
Press contacts
FIDH: Mr. Andrea Giorgetta (English) - Tel: +66886117722 (Bangkok)
LMHR: Ms. Vanida Thephsouvanh (French, English, Lao) - Tel: +33160065706 (Paris)
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