Human rights and advocacy groups called on world leaders to raise human rights concerns during the Association of Southeast Asian Nations summit in Vientiane from Sept. 6-8.
"If Laos' authoritarian leaders have their way, the voices of civil society and concern for human rights won't be heard at this meeting," said Phil Robertson, deputy Asia director of Human Rights Watch.
Robertson said it falls to world leaders like U.S. President Barack Obama "to take up the slack by raising rights issues both privately and publicly in Laos."
In a statement on Sept. 1, rights groups said visiting world leaders should press the Lao government "to cease the abuses that have consistently placed Laos at the bottom of rights and development indexes."
"The Lao government still has provided no clear answers to what happened to my husband," said Shui Meng Ng, wife of Sombath Somphone.
Somphone, a national and regional leader in rural development, was forcibly disappeared on Dec. 15, 2012. The Lao government has failed to provide information as to his whereabouts.