Lao PDR: Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination considers report of the Lao People’s Democratic Republic

Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination
29 February 2012

The Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination today considered the combined sixteenth to eighteenth periodic reports of the Lao People’s Democratic Republic on how that country is implementing the provisions of the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination.

Introducing the report, Chaleun Yiapaoheu, Head of the Lao Delegation, Minister of Justice and Chairman of the National Committee on Reporting under the Convention on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination, said 49 ethnic groups lived in Lao People’s Democratic Republic in peace and harmony, all equal under the Constitution. The Criminal Code now listed discrimination based on ethnicity as an offence. The National Growth and Poverty Eradication Strategy focused on rural development, reduction of economic gaps and relocation of people from remote areas to new villages. The Land Titling Project had produced tangible results that ensured all Lao persons had the right to own land. Equal employment opportunities for all ethnic groups were ensured, and people from smaller ethnic groups were given priority for jobs in most major development projects. Following anthropological research on ethnic groups in the country, the Government found that allegations of maltreatment and discrimination against the Hmong ethnic group were groundless, and aimed at destroying the good image and continued efforts by the Government to cooperate with the international community in the promotion and protection of human rights.
During the discussion, Committee Experts asked what concrete steps had been taken to adopt a general definition of racial discrimination into the legal system. Experts raised issues of discrimination and violence against population of ethnic groups, in particular against the Hmong community and compensation for ethnic groups who were victims of mining activities. The Committee expressed concern about the Government’s re-settlement policies and inheritance traditions that discriminated against women. Experts also raised access to education for children from ethnic minorities and asked whether the education system taught the culture and languages of ethnic minorities. The fight against human trafficking and corruption was discussed, as were institutional developments, including whether the Government planned to establish a National Human Rights Institution.

In concluding remarks, Regis De Goutte, Country Rapporteur for the Lao People’s Democratic Republic, said that the Committee would make recommendations on access to healthcare for vulnerable groups, establishment of a National Human Rights Institution, elimination of any restrictions on freedom of expression that might still exist, the need to define racial discrimination more broadly than just in the Criminal Code, and on the need to collect statistics on the complaints and causes of racial discrimination.

Chaleun Yiapaoheu, concluded the interactive dialogue by thanking the Committee Experts for their constructive remarks and saying the Government would consider their recommendations and continue its efforts for the effective implementation of the Convention.

The Delegation of the Lao People’s Democratic Republic consisted of representatives of the Ministry of Justice, the National Assembly, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Lao Front for National Construction, the Ministry of Education and Sports and the Permanent Mission of the Lao People’s Democratic Republic to the United Nations Office at Geneva.

The next public meeting of the Committee will take place at 3 p.m. today, when it will consider the combined thirteenth to sixteenth periodic reports of Qatar (CERD/C/QAT/13-16).

Report

The combined sixteenth to eighteenth periodic reports of the Lao People’s Democratic Republic can be read here: (CERD/C/LAO/16-18).

For more details, click here to go to OHCHR website

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