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Laos

    September 06, 2016

    The Lao authorities should lift all restrictions on journalists and allow them to do their job and move  freely, Amnesty International said today.

    The organization’s call comes as foreign journalists arriving in Laos to cover USA President Barack Obama’s participation in the US-ASEAN Summit from 6-8 September have been told that their articles and broadcasts will have to be approved by a censor before publication.

    Foreign journalists may also be assigned a minder who will trail them for the duration of their stay in Laos.

    “The restrictions imposed on journalists covering the ASEAN summit in Laos amounts to a violation of their right freedom of expression, and the right of the public, both in Lao and globally, to receive information. Journalists should be able to do their job without fear, interference or harassment,” said Rafendi Djamin, Amnesty International’s Director for South East Asia and the Pacific.

    Journalists travelling to Laos have told Amnesty International that they may not be allowed to raise questions on certain human rights issues by the authorities.

    August 30, 2016

    As the International Day of the Disappeared is marked around the world, the Laos authorities must promptly, thoroughly and effectively investigate the abduction and suspected enforced disappearance of Sombath Somphone, Amnesty International said today.

    On 15 December 2012, Sombath Somphone, a leading member of Lao civil society, was stopped by traffic police and taken away in a pick-up truck. His whereabouts remain unknown, his family has not been kept informed by the authorities, and there has been no credible investigation into his enforced disappearance.

    “Next week, Barack Obama will become the first US President to visit Laos. He must seize this rare opportunity to raise concerns about the human rights situation in the notoriously closed country, including by asking the authorities, ‘Where is Sombath?’” said T. Kumar, Amnesty International USA’s International Advocacy Director.

    Barack Obama and leaders from across South East Asia will be meeting in Vientiane, the capital of the Lao People’s Democratic Republic (Laos), to attend the ASEAN summit from 6-8 September 2016.

    June 13, 2013

    The Lao government must act now to ensure the safe return of civil society leader Sombath Somphone, who is most likely a victim of an enforced disappearance at the hands of the authorities, Amnesty International said in a new briefing issued today.

    The briefing, Caught on Camera, examines in detail the case of Sombath, who was taken away in the presence of security personnel on the evening of 15 December 2012 – six months ago – and has not been heard from since.

    “Based on the evidence, the most plausible conclusion is that Sombath Somphone is a victim of an enforced disappearance, for which Lao officials are responsible,” said Rupert Abbott, Amnesty International’s Researcher on Cambodia, Laos and Viet Nam.

    “The Lao government must publicly demand his immediate and unconditional release, and safe return to his family.”

    “They should also establish a new, independent commission to investigate the case, ensure Sombath’s safe return, and bring to justice in fair proceedings those suspected of being responsible for his enforced disappearance”.

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