Laotian authorities treat the European Parliament with contempt: letter from Olivier Dupuis to EP President Pat Cox
For the attention of Mr Pat Cox
President of the European Parliament
Strasbourg, 10 February 2003
At the meeting between the Delegation for Relations with the countries of South-East Asia, of the ASEAN and the Republic of Korea held on Thursday 13 June 2002, we had the opportunity to meet an official delegation from the People’s Assembly of the Lao People’s Democratic Republic.
In the course of a rather heated debate, our Lao colleagues were interpellated mainly on questions concerning the extremely serious violations by the Lao authorities of the fundamental liberties and rights of the Lao people, and in particular on the situation of Messrs Keuakoun, Phengphanh, Chanmanivong, Sisa-At and Keochay, the five leaders of the 26 October 1999 Movement, arrested during the demonstration held that day and not heard of since.
Replying to questions from several colleagues, and in particular to the request made by Mr Christophe Huhne calling on the Lao delegation to undertake to provide the EP with the records of the trial against the above-mentioned leaders, Mr Samane Souvannasao, the Vice-President of the Justice Committee of the National Assembly of the Lao PDR, stated that: "I will be happy to send you a copy of the sentence of the Court concerning these students." This statement is all the more important in that the Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Lao PDR, speaking to the Italian Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs in November 2001 in Vientiane, had stated that the five leaders of the 26 October Movement had not yet been brought to trial.
Now, more than eight months later, the Lao authorities have still not sent any records of the trial to the European Parliament.
This, in my opinion, is an extremely serious matter that calls into question the credibility of the public statements made by the official delegation of the People’s Assembly of the Lao PDR, and also - and this is much more serious - threatens to discredit the work, the role and the function of the delegation concerned and of the EP as a whole.
For this reason I would be very grateful, Mr President, if you could urge the Lao authorities, in this case the President of the People’s Assembly of the Lao PDR, to respect the commitments made in a public and official manner, and ask him to provide the European Parliament without delay with a copy of the court records concerning the trial of the five leaders of the 26 October Movement.
You might also take the opportunity, Mr President, to remind him that the practice of forced disappearances constitutes, in the eyes of the European Parliament, one of the most serious violations of the fundamental rights, and to underline how much the European Parliament is disappointed by the lack of progress – even by the further deterioration - of the situation of human rights in Laos.
I look forward to hearing from you.