Party leaders furthermore urged tighter control over civil society organizations in the face of alleged but unsubstantiated efforts to undermine the party. In the wake of community leader Sombath Somphone’s unexplained disappearance in late 2012, the deplorable investigation of which attracted condemnation from around the world, increased pressure on civil society organizations produced levels of fear and self-censorship reminiscent of a more oppressive past. In this context, leaders’ ongoing claims to be strengthening the rule of law – another rhetorical theme in Laos – continued to fall flat.
From the 2016 BertelsmannStiflung Foundation’s Laos Country Report. On its Political Transformation Index, the foundation ranked the Lao PDR 120th out of 127 countries. Only North Korea ranked lower among Asian nations.