Bertelsmann-Stiftung’s 2018 Report

BertelsmannStiftung Foundation: 2018

Bertelsmann Stiftung-logo… two weeks later another AEPF organizer, Sombath Somphone, disappeared after being stopped at a police checkpoint on a busy Vientiane road. Although the government pleaded that it was investigating Sombath’s disappearance, its failure to make any progress over the following years intensified speculation that he had been silenced due to his advocacy work. After these incidents, government leaders targeted civil society in speeches and, in 2014, introduced guidelines to tighten the regulation of international NGOs.

From the 2018 Bertelsmann-Stiflung’s Laos Country Report.  Laos was ranked 106th out of 129 countries on the foundation’s Transformation Index

A clear condemnation is necessary

LMHR 2016-06-14Sombath continues to be an inspiration to many in Laos and beyond. Those who struggle for justice, for sustainable development, for respect of fundamental rights deserve better than silence.

…it is of utmost importance that international community present in Laos clearly condemns his enforced disappearance. It is not enough to ask for an investigation. A clear condemnation is necessary to defend Sombath’s legacy in the area of sustainable development. We cannot let propaganda damage Sombath’s reputation and contribution to his country, and have rumors being spread on reasons justifying what happened to him, to the point that Sombath has become a taboo in his own country.

From Is International Aid Complicit in the Repression in Laos? by Anne-Sophie Gindroz. Presented at a conference of the same title sponsored by the Lao Movement for Human Rights held in Paris on 14 June 2016. Click on the link for the full presentation.

BertelsmannStiftung Foundation’s 2016 Report

BertelsmannStiftung Foundation: 2016

Bertelsmann Stiftung-logoParty 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 Indexthe foundation ranked the Lao PDR 120th out of 127 countries. Only North Korea ranked lower among Asian nations.

Laos in 2016: Sustainable Development and the Work of Sombath Somphone

By Kearrin Sims

Introduction

Logo Please-return-Sombath-SafelyIn 2016 it will be 20 years since the Government of Laos (GoL) first announced its goal to graduate from Least Developed Country (LDC) status by 2020.1 During this time, much has changed. With the exception of a few years following the 1997 Asian financial crisis, economic growth has remained strong and in 2011 the World Bank raised Laos’ income categorization from a low-income economy to a lower-middle income economy.2 Foreign Direct Investment has also growing rapidly and strong progress has been made on a number of the country’s Millennium Development Goal (MDG) targets. This has led the UNDP to categorize Laos as the 6th most successful country for improved human development over the past 40 years.3

Yet alongside these markers of progress, there is another story to be told about ‘development’ in Laos. This is a story of widening inequality, severe environmental degradation, human rights abuses, state and private sector corruption, persistently high maternal mortality and malnutrition rates, land grabbing and forced resettlement as well as tensions with fellow ASEAN countries over controversial Mekong hydropower projects.4 These widespread and often interrelated challenges have led to new forms of poverty and damaged the country’s international reputation. Continue reading “Laos in 2016: Sustainable Development and the Work of Sombath Somphone”

จับผิดจากกล้อง-Caught on Camera

Caught on Camera-Thaiรายงานองค์การแอมเนสตี้อินเตอร์เนชั่นแนล “จับผิดจากกล้อง: การบังคับบุคคลให้สูญหาย กรณีสมบัด สมพอน” มีเป็นภาษาไทยดว้ย. กรุณาคลิกที่ภาพ.

The Amnesty International Report, “Caught on Camera: The Enforced Disappearance of Sombath Somphone” is now available in Thai Language. Please click the picture.