Laos: Peaceful protesters must be released immediately

December 7, 2009

Laos: Peaceful protesters must be released immediately

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This year Laos is host for the Southeast Asian Games, a regional bi-annual sports event. The authorities have carried out meticulous preparations, but the recent arrests and enforced disappearances of peaceful petitioners risks tarnishing the occasion.

Laos ratified the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights on 25 September 2009. This core international human rights treaty places obligations on state parties to guarantee, amongst others, the rights to freedom of expression and assembly, as well as to provide safeguards for the treatment, including detention and trial of arrested persons, in accordance with human rights standards.

Enforced disappearance is a human rights violation and a crime under international law. In addition, it violate a wide range of other human rights: the right to liberty and security of person; the right not to be subjected to torture or other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment; the right to be recognized as a person before the law; as well as the rights to fair trial and to family life. Ultimately, it can violate the right to life, as victims of enforced disappearance are often killed.

Since the first arrests in early November, Amnesty International has received unconfirmed reports about more petitioners taken into custody in Vientiane and other provinces.

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For more information please call Amnesty International's press office in London, UK, on +44 20 7413 5566 or email: [email protected]

International Secretariat, Amnesty International, 1 Easton St., London WC1X 0DW, UK