EU human rights talks must be backed by action

FIDH: 03 November 2015

FIDH-Logo(Paris) The EU must ensure that the Lao government makes firm commitments during upcoming bilateral human rights talks, FIDH and its member organization Lao Movement for Human Rights (LMHR) said today. The two organizations made the call ahead of the 6th EU-Laos human rights dialogue, which will be held on 6 November in Vientiane.

In conjunction with the human rights dialogue, FIDH and LMHR published a joint briefing paper that details ongoing human rights violations that have occurred in the country since the previous round of talks in May 2014.

“It is imperative that the EU negotiates clear, measurable, and time-bound commitments with the Lao government and ensures their implementation. Otherwise, the human rights dialogue risks being a meaningless process that does not deliver any concrete results” FIDH President Karim Lahidji

lmhr-logoSince May 2014, the Lao government has enacted additional draconian legislation, such as Decree 327, to augment its existing arsenal of repressive laws. Authorities have arbitrarily arrested and imprisoned individuals who have criticized the government or exposed instances of corruption. Authorities have continued to crack down on religious minorities, arresting numerous members of various Christian groups.

The government has failed to provide any updates on the investigation of the enforced disappearance of prominent civil society leader Sombath Somphone, whose fate and whereabouts remain unknown. In addition, it has outrageously labeled allegations of other unresolved enforced disappearances as “not true.”

The space for Lao civil society to conduct human rights activities remains non-existent. Proposed regulations could impose further restrictions on the activities of local non-profit associations (NPAs) and international non-governmental organizations (INGOs). The Lao government also decided it would not host the 2016 ASEAN Peoples’ Forum/ASEAN Civil Society Conference (APF/ACSC) that is traditionally held just before the annual ASEAN Summit. The decision was justified by saying that “foreigners” would use the event to criticize ASEAN governments and that the safety of “extremist” activists who planned to attend the meeting could not be guaranteed. Since its inception in 2005, this will be the first time the APF/ACSC will not convene.

The ongoing pursuit of controversial infrastructure projects, such as the Don Sahong hydropower dam, without adequate safeguards and proper consultation with affected stakeholders, risks having a negative impact on the of socio-economic rights of local communities. Meanwhile, reports of evictions without adequate compensation in connection with investment projects continue to surface.

Finally, despite the fact that Laos has not executed anyone since 1989, courts have continued to impose death sentences on convicted criminals, mostly for drug-related offenses. The government has also delayed amendments to the Criminal Code aimed at limiting capital punishment to the most serious crimes, in accordance with international standards.

“The recent defeat of Laos in the UN Human Rights Council election shows that the international community has taken note of the government’s failure to make demonstrable progress on human rights. It is time for the EU to use its influence and demand that Laos comply with its international human rights obligations and implement the numerous recommendations it received during the Universal Periodic Review process” LMHR President Vanida Thephsouvanh

2 Replies to “EU human rights talks must be backed by action”

  1. Laos failed to condemnation Human Rights Violations in Syria an Iran by abstaining from votes regarding these countries in the United Nations General Assembly and voted against a resolution condemning human rights violations in North Korea. Laos was also harbor the terrorist in Southeast Asia, i.e., Bin Laden’s people had hided in Laos for many months and Bin Laden’s escaped from Laos to Thailand, and then his people had been caught up in the South of Thailand. Meanwhile, Laos has very poor records since 1973 onward. Laos was also had supported the poor records in Cuba, China and North Vietnam. So, Laos must be sanction and isolated from the UNGA entirely.
    The Subsequent Political Events on Indochina:
    1. The Geneva Conference and Its Agreements on Restoration of Peace in Indochina on July 21, 1954 had been tearing down by the communist and dictatorship side.
    2. The 1960’s First Laos Historical Coup D’Etat Led to Create of the Ho Chi Minh Trail by Captain Kong Le.
    3. 1962’s Geneva Conference and Its Agreements for Peace and Neutrality of Laos an Cambodia on July 23, 1962 which the 14 Nations included the name of the Representative for the Kingdom of Laos (Quinim Phonsena) had been abandoned and disregarded so. After then, Quinim Phonsena had been assassinated by unknown side and no one had been brought into the justice!
    4. Winding Down the Indochina War: a) In August 2nd, 1964, North Vietnamese patrol boats attacked the American destroyer, the Maddox in the Gulf of Tonkin which has brought to American under the President Lyndon Johnson to make a quick retaliation with the first aircraft bombing against North Vietnam; b) How Cambodia got involved, that’s long history; c) President Richard M. Nixon inherited this cauldron of all choices. He determined to end the United States involvement in Vietnam as of any price, because such an ending was absolutely indispensable for the United States. The administration had to respect the concerns of opponents of the war but also the anguish of the families whose sons and daughters had suffered and died for their country. No one, of course has been familiar President Richard M. Nixon’s career and could have believed that his promises to end the war could man a simple abdication. In the contrary, it was surprising that a President Elected Conservative constituency wants to such lengths to placate the liberal critics, adopting in effect the peace program rejected by the Democratic National Convention in 1968, but in the prevailing atmosphere of radicalization, every concession elicited further demands culminating in pressures to withdraw unilaterally the United States Armed Forces and overthrown the government of the American’s allies; d) China punished North Vietnam in 1979; e) Agreements on the Restoration of Peace and National Reconciliation in Laos and followed by the Paris Peace Treaty between the United States of America and North Vietnam, on January 27th, 1973; and f) The Vientiane Peace Agreement and National Reconciliation on Laos of February 21st, 1973. This agreement had been tearing down by the Communist Patriotic Forces by the supported the large numbers of North Vietnamese troops for illegal invasion of Laos. That’s caused all of us to become the refugees scattered in every corners around the world today. Are we very proud of this circumstance? Of course, No. Then we got to learn how to resist!
    Politically, by all means the Communist Patriotic Forces and Dictatorship had been tearing down all the International Peace Agreements of Geneva, in 1954, 1962, about the neutrality of Laos and Cambodia. The problems of Cambodia had been resolved, but the problems of Laos still existed to date. Also the Paris Peace Agreement of January 27, 1973 between North Vietnam and the United States of America, especially Article 20 which guaranteed Laos and Cambodia to be the Neutrality countries in this planet. All of these problems and concerns, the Lao citizen got to learn how to resist all of these things to gain back our country legacy, integrity, and reputations. Again, thank you for listening. (By: Dr. William K. Bouarouy, Ph.D). This is just a very brief reminding to all of the Lao overseas people and the Lao people in the country.

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