Apr 17, 2024

The UNPO submits Alternative Report to the UN Human Rights Committee (CCPR) on the issue of severe human rights abuses against the Hmong ethnic minority group in Laos

The alternative report was compiled and submitted by the UNPO, on behalf of our Hmong member, the Congress of World Hmong People (CWHP), ahead of the CCPR’s 141th Session in summer 2024 and in light of the replies submitted in 2023 by the Lao People’s Democratic Republic (LPDR) to the Human Rights Committee’s recommendations made in November 2018


The Hmong are an indigenous group originating from Laos, Southern China, Vietnam, Myanmar and Thailand. Specifically, the Hmong ChaoFa are an indigenous group originally from the ChaoFa region of Northern Laos. The Hmong distinguish themselves from the general Laotian population because of their ethnicity, written and spoken language, culture and religion. According to the latest national census, they are LPDR’s third largest minority, constituting about 10% of the population. However, the LPDR Government refuses to grant them indigenous status preventing them from receiving any form of legal protection they would otherwise be entitled to under international law (e.g. Article 27 ICCPR). 

While the LPDR asserts the protection and inviolability of democratic rights and freedoms of all citizens under its Constitution and has ratified a number of international conventions pertaining to the promotion and protection of human rights, in practice, these rights are extremely limited. For instance, criticizing the Government is prohibited under the Criminal Code, while political dissidents, human rights activists, and ethnic or religious minorities are often arrested and detained without valid legal justifications. For example, charges of threat to the national security of the LPDR are employed to arrest members of minority communities, particularly Hmong individuals who are perceived as untrustworthy and anti-governmental. As identified in a recent report, the Government regularly resorts to discriminatory policies, forced resettlement, and illegal land grabs, with the Hmong particularly affected. Slowly, but surely, they are being eradicated from the region, with those that remain forced to live in incredibly controlled environments, in poor conditions.

Despite serious humanitarian and human rights concerns expressed by the international community, the LPDR continues to deny the excessive use of force against the Hmong people and refuses access to the area to international observers, even on humanitarian or medical grounds. This intense campaign also coincides with the development of the Phou Bia Mountain as a tourist site. 

Over the years, the UNPO has submitted several reports to UN bodies highlighting the severe human rights abuses perpetrated against the Hmong. The current report focuses on three priority areas: the issue of enforced disappearances; participation in public affairs and the right to vote; and the rights of persons belonging to minorities highlighting the difficulties and continued oppression the Hmong community faces in all aspects of their lives by the LPDR.  

The UNPO and the CWHP call on the UN CCPR and the international community to hold the LPDR accountable ensuring the Government takes proactive steps to:

  • Allow an international fact-finding mission and access for international journalists to the area to investigate and report freely on the human rights situation in Laos;
  • Develop a framework for the recognition and protection of indigenous peoples;
  • End the intimidation, harassment and persecution of human rights defenders, journalists, and members of minority communities through arbitrary arrests and enforced disappearances;
  • Develop poverty-alleviation programs specifically targeting regions populated by minorities, including providing remote geographical areas with adequate healthcare facilities, fighting child malnutrition, and tackling maternal mortality;
  • Develop a legal framework to protect minoritised and indigenous communities from land grabbing practices and forced relocations as a consequence of economic activities and the development of the tourism industry in the region.

The Hmong community has expressed its openness to open a discussion with the Lao PDR in order to find a mutually beneficial solution. Any such dialogue must be mediated by an independent individual or body, to ensure a trusting and equitable environment.

We look forward to the consideration of our recommendations by the UN Human Rights Committee. The UNPO remains committed to our efforts to raise awareness of the discrimination facing minoritised communities across the globe and to advocate for their rights at the international level.


Photo credit: Spotter_nl