June 2, 1998
Mr. Thomas (for himself, Mr. Grams, Mr. Smith of Oregon, and Mr. Smith
of New Hampshire) submitted the following resolution; which was
referred to the Committee on Foreign Relations
June 25, 1998
Reported by Mr. Helms, without amendment
July 29, 1998

Considered, amended, and agreed to

Expressing the sense of the Senate with respect to democracy and human
rights in Lao People’s Democratic Republic.
Whereas in 1975, the Pathet Lao party supplanted the existing Lao government and
the Lao Royal Family, and established a “people’s democratic
republic”, in violation of the 1962 Declaration on the Neutrality of
Laos and its Protocol, as well as the 1973 Vientiane Agreement on Laos;
Whereas since the 1975 overthrow of the existing Lao government, Laos has been
under the sole control of the Lao People’s Democratic Party;
Whereas the present Lao Constitution provides for human rights protection for
the Lao people, and Laos is a signatory to international agreements on
civil and political rights;
Whereas Laos has become a member of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations,
which calls for the creation of open societies in each of its member
states by the year 2020;
Whereas despite that, the State Department’s “Country Reports on Human Rights
Practices for 1997” notes that the government has only slowly eased
restrictions on basic freedoms and begun codification of implementing
legislation for rights stipulated in the Lao Constitution, and continues
to significantly restrict the freedoms of speech, assembly, and
religion; and
Whereas on January 30, 1998, the Lao government arrested and detained forty-four
individuals at a Bible study meeting in Vientiane and on March 25
sentenced thirteen Christians from the group to prison terms of three to
five years for “creating divisions among the people, undermining the
government, and accepting foreign funds to promote religion”: Now,
therefore, be it
Resolved, That it is the sense of the Senate that the present
government of Laos should–
(1) respect international norms of human rights and
democratic freedoms for the Lao people, and fully honor its
commitments to those norms and freedoms as embodied in its
constitution and international agreements, and in the 1962
Declaration on the Neutrality of Laos and its Protocol and the
1973 Vientiane Agreement on Laos;
(2) issue a public statement specifically reaffirming its
commitment to protecting religious freedom and other basic
human rights;
(3) fully institute a process of democracy, human rights,
and openly-contested free and fair elections in Laos, and
ensure specifically that the National Assembly elections–
currently scheduled for 2002–are openly contested; and
(4) allow access for international human rights monitors,
including the International Committee of the Red Cross to Lao
prisons, and to all regions of the country to investigate
allegations of human rights abuses, including those against the
Hmong people, when requestedsr-240

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