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Laos

Volume 405: debated on Thursday 22 May 2003

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To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if he will make a statement on (a) the treatment of Christians and (b) the recent release of Christian prisoners in Laos. [113752]

We are aware of reports of the detention and mistreatment of Christians in Laos and our Embassy in Bangkok (which is accredited to Laos) monitors the situation. We raise concerns about human rights in Laos, including the treatment of Christians, when the opportunity arises. In London in January the Asia Pacific Director at the Foreign and Commonwealth Office discussed these issues with Sayakane Sisouvong, the ASEAN Director General at the Lao Ministry of Foreign Affairs.It remains a concern to us that the Lao government detains people, albeit comparatively few in number, on charges which run counter to internationally accepted standards of human rights. But we welcome any release of Christian prisoners in Laos as an indication that the human rights situation in Laos is improving.