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Religious freedom violated in Laos, says US report

New report notes arbitrary detention of political dissidents and serious restrictions on free speech and media

UCA News reporter, Vientiane

UCA News reporter, Vientiane

Published: April 06, 2021 05:00 PM GMT

Updated: April 07, 2021 08:47 AM GMT

Religious freedom violated in Laos, says US report

Sacred Heart Cathedral in Lao capital Vientiane was built in 1928. In recent years there have been numerous reports of Christians in Laos being victimized because of their faith. (Photo: Wikiwand)

Basic rights including religious freedom continue to be routinely violated in Laos, according to a new report by the US State Department.

Among the most egregious rights violations in the Southeast Asian communist country are the arbitrary detention of political dissidents, serious restrictions on free speech and media freedom, and severe limits on any form of publicly voiced dissent, the State Department says.

Citizens are routinely detained and sentenced to years in prison simply for criticizing controversial government policies such as land reclamation projects for redevelopment in rural areas, which can deprive villagers of their livelihoods, according to the report.

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Religious freedoms are also curtailed in Laos, with members of its Christian minority frequently targeted by officials over their faith, which is widely seen as an alien creed that does not belong in the country.

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