LAO People's Democratic Republic: Children's Rights in UN Treaty Body Reports

Summary: This report extracts mentions of children's rights issues in the reports of all UN Treaty Bodies and their follow-up procedures. This does not include the Concluding Observations of the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child which are available here:

Please note that the language may have been edited in places for the purposes of clarity.

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UN Human Rights Committee


UN Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights


UN Committee against Torture


UN Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women


Last reported: 24 July 2009
Concluding Observations published: 14 August 2009

Issues raised:

Education: The initial plan to make primary education compulsory was postponed from 2000 to 2010. The Committee recommends that free and compulsory primary education at the national level be implemented as soon as possible. (Paras 94, 95)

Marriage: The law allows marriage under the age of 18 in "special and necessary cases" and a considerable percentage of women do marry before they reach the age of 18. The Committee recommends that the State party prohibit under-age marriage in all circumstances. The Committee also urges the State party to provide in its next report information on the results of the data collected on-site regarding early marriages and measures taken to prevent them. (Paras 96, 97)

The very high maternal and infant mortality rates and the high fertility rate: The Committee recommends that the State party accelerate the implementation of its national population policy, focusing on expanding its network of health-care facilities and personnel throughout the nation and reaching out to rural and remote areas. (Paras 108, 109)

Stereotypes: The traditional attitudes on gender-role stereotyping keep women and girls in a subordinate position, preventing them from getting equal education and life opportunities, especially in rural areas. The Committee also recommends that the State party take more active and proactive measures to bring about changes in the traditional patriarchal attitudes on gender-role stereotyping. (Paras 110, 111)


UN Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination


Last Reported: 28 and 29 February 2012                                                  Concluding Observations issued: 14 April 2012

Issues raised and recommendations given:

Gender discrimination: The Committee expresses concern at the reluctance of the State party to take steps to discourage practices within some ethnic groups, particularly regarding inheritance and early marriages, which are prejudicial to the equal enjoyment and exercise of rights by either sex. Recalling the State party’s obligation to guarantee the right to equality in the enjoyment of human rights, the Committee calls on the State party to take account in public policies of the need to address discriminatory customs, primarily through education and other culturally sensitive strategies. In this regard, the Committee draws the attention of the State party to its general recommendation No. 25 (2000) on gender-related dimensions of racial discrimination. (art. 5 (d) and (e)) (Para. 15)

Access to Public Services: The Committee notes the political will of the State party to reduce poverty in rural areas and to improve ethnic groups’ enjoyment of economic and social rights, as shown by the implementation of policies and programmes, such as the Education Strategy by 2020 and Education for All programmes, and the Strategy Plan in Public Health Sector by 2020, which accord priority to disadvantaged districts. Nevertheless, the Committee is concerned that some ethnic groups do not have equal access to public services, such as in the area of health and education, either because of language barriers or because the provision of these services in remote locations are either of poor quality or inexistent.

The Committee calls upon the State party to continue to address the ethnic and geographical disparities in the delivery of, and access to, public services, and to ensure that these services are culturally adequate. Bearing in mind its general recommendation No. 32 (2009) on the meaning and scope of special measures in the International Convention on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination, the Committee requests the State party to include in its next periodic report information on special measures taken to reduce these disparities and information on the outcome of measures taken to overcome the language obstacle in the delivery of services. The Committee also requests that the State party provide in its next periodic report data on the enjoyment of economic, social and cultural rights, disaggregated by ethnic group and rural/urban area. (art. 5 (e)) (Para. 19)

Ethnic languages: The Committee expresses its concern at the insufficient measures taken to preserve the ethnic languages spoken in the State party, in particular the non-written languages, which are part of the national cultural heritage. The Committee urges the State party to take the necessary measures to preserve the cultural heritage of ethnic groups, including their languages. In this regard, the Committee recommends that the State party explore all possibilities for capturing and documenting ethnic languages, traditional knowledge and cultures, and develop their teaching in school. (art. 5 (e)) (Para. 21)



Last reported: 21 and 22 February 2005
Concluding Observations adopted: 9 March 2005

Concerns raised:

Violence against Hmong children: The Committee is concerned at reports that serious acts of violence have been perpetrated against members of the Hmong minority, in particular allegations that soldiers brutalised and killed a group of five Hmong children on 19 May 2004. The Committee recommends to the State party that it provide more precise information about the bodies responsible for investigating these allegations. It also strongly recommends that the State party allow United Nations bodies for the protection and promotion of human rights to visit the areas in which members of the Hmong minority have taken refuge. (art. 5) (Para. 22)

Education: The Committee notes with concern that the State party claims that it is unable to introduce human rights education programmes in schools. The Committee recommends to the State party that it introduce, if necessary with the assistance of the international community, education programmes in schools on human rights and combating racial discrimination. (Para. 24)


UN Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination: Follow-up

In response to paragraph 22 of the Committee's Concluding Observations, the State responded (7 July 2006):

"Concerning the allegations of five Hmong children being raped and killed by combatants of the Lao People's Army (LPA) in Xaisomboune Special Zone on 19 May 2004, upon receiving the information, the General Staff Department of the Ministry of National Defense, by its decision No. 352/KPT dated 30 September 2004, has established an ad hoc investigation Team, which is composed of the following staff members:

1. Col. Bouasieng Champaphanh, Deputy Chief of General Staff, Team Leader;
2. Lieutenant Col. Bountham Phonthirath, Deputy Director of the Public Security Department, Member; and
3. Lieutenant Col. Siphanh Phouthavong, Deputy Director of Boundary and Maps cum Secretary of the Committee on Security Cooperation along the Lao-Thai border, Member. "

The Committee responded (18 August 2006):

"The Committee noted the explanation provided by the State party and wishes to draw the attention of the State party to its General Recommendation 31(2005) on the prevention of racial discrimination in the administration and functioning of the juvenile justice system. It further stresses that investigations into acts of violence against members of ethnic minorities by law enforcement officials should be carried out by independent bodies, including when no complaint has been formally lodged by the alleged victim."


UN Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination: Early warning


10 December 2003

The Committee expresses its grave concern at the information it has received of serious and repeated human rights violations in the Lao People's Democratic Republic, in particular violations of the rights to life, physical integrity and security, and of the freedoms of expression, association and religion, and at reports of economic, social and cultural discrimination against members of the Hmong minority, which constitutes approximately 7.4 per cent of the population.

The Committee is extremely disturbed to learn that some members of the Hmong minority, who have taken refuge in the jungle or certain mountainous regions of the Lao People's Democratic Republic since the end of the war in 1975, have been subjected to severe brutalities. It has been reported that acts of extreme violence such as bombing of villages, use of chemical weapons and landmines and extrajudicial killings and torture are currently being committed by the armed forces in military campaigns against the inhabitants of remote villages in the provinces of Xieng Khuang, North Vientiane-Vang Vieng, Bolikhamsai, Sainyabuli, and the Saisombun Special Zone. According to some information, men, women and children belonging to the Hmong population live in terrible poverty, suffer from malnutrition and have no access whatever to medical care.

In the light of the foregoing information, the Committee:

(a) Urges the State party to halt immediately acts of violence against members of the Hmong population who have taken refuge in the jungle or certain mountainous regions of the Lao People's Democratic Republic;
(b) Urgently calls upon the State party to ensure that these persons have freedom of movement and access to adequate food and medical care;


UN Committee on Migrant Workers


UN Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities


UN Committee on Enforced Disappearance

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