UNESCO appeals for release of Laotian policial prisoner Latsami KhamphouiParis - UNESCO today appealed for the immediate release of Laotian political prisoner Latsami Khamphoui, a former Deputy Minister for Economics and Planning, in jail since 1990 for writing letters to various government officials criticizing the government of Laos.
Mr Khamphoui, 62, is in poor health and is suffering from angina. He is serving a 14-year sentence in a remote camp in conditions that are said to be extremely harsh.
Speaking for UNESCO's Executive Board, Chairperson Aziza Bennani, today launched "a humanitarian appeal for clemency" to the government of the Lao People's Democratic Republic on behalf of Mr Khamphoui.
The appeal came at the end of an exceptional public debate by the Executive Board, held on the advice of UNESCO's Committee on Conventions and Recommendations. The Committee normally handles human rights violations in private session, submitting its requests directly to the State concerned with no publicity.
But in 2001, having failed to obtain the co-operation of the Government ofLaos, the Committee decided to break with its usual procedure and discuss Mr Khamphoui's case in public.
Since 1997, the issue has been discussed in three private sessions, and twice in public. The Director-General of UNESCO has also written to the Lao government calling for clemency.
UNESCO's Committee on Conventions and Recommendations deplored the fact that, despite its efforts, there had been no improvement in the conditions of Mr Khamphoui's detention and he had not received the medical care he needs. It called for his "immediate release on humanitarian grounds and in view of the fact that he had already served two thirds of his sentence."
The Committee also expressed "deep concern at the alarming state of health of the alleged victim" and requested the Director-General to "use his good offices to obtain greater collaboration in this matter from the government concerned."
In his 1992 trial, the former Deputy Minister was charged with the "preparations for a rebellion, propaganda against the Lao People's Democratic Republic, mass meetings with the intention of creating tensions, libel and slander, and creating disturbances in gaol."