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The Lao People’s Democratic Republic is an authoritarian state ruled by the only party that the constitution legitimizes, the Lao People’s Revolutionary Party (LPRP). The most recent National Assembly election was held on April 30, and almost all candidates were LPRP members vetted by the party. Security forces reported to civilian authorities. The most significant human rights problems were that the government continued to deny citizens the right to change their government, prison conditions were harsh and at times life-threatening, and corruption in the police and judiciary persisted. Other human rights problems included some police and security force abuse of prisoners and detainees; arbitrary arrest and detention; government infringements on freedom of speech, the press, assembly, and association, as well as the right to privacy; government restrictions on academic freedom; local restrictions on religious freedom; trafficking in persons; societal discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and against persons with HIV/AIDS; and government restrictions on worker rights. The government did not take steps to prosecute and punish officials who committed abuses, and members of the police acted with impunity.
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