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State Dept.: Laos' Human Rights Record Remained Poor.
Dara Baccam - Washington - 03 Mar 2005, 14:08 UTC The US State Department says the Lao government’s human rights record remained poor in 2004, and it continued to commit serious abuses. The government continued to pursue remnant bands of insurgents, resulting in an unknown number of civilian and military casualties. Citizens did not have the right to change their government.

Laos' Constitution provides for freedom of speech and of the press; however, the government severely restricted political speech and writing in practice. All domestic print and electronic media are state-owned and controlled. Local news in all media reflect government policy.

Lao authorities continued to restrict freedom of religion, arresting and detained approximately 30 Christians, compared with approximately 50 arrested in the previous year.

The Lao government has rejected the US accusations of human rights violations in Laos and its crackdown on religious freedom. In a statement quoted by the Vietnam News Agency, the Lao Foreign Ministry's spokesman says the State Department report surprised the Lao people because Laos and the US have seen new steps in beefing up multi-faceted ties in recent years.

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