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Tuesday, 16 November 2004
Page: 122

Senator Brown asked the Minister representing the Minister for Foreign Affairs, upon notice, on 4 August 2004:

With reference to the articles, `Welcome to the Jungle', dated 5 May 2003, and `Licensed to Kill', dated 30 June 2003, which were published in Time Asia (the Asian version of Time magazine) and which alleged murderous treatment of the Hmong people by the Laotian Government:

(1) Has the Government made representations to the Government of Laos regarding the treatment of the Hmong people.

(2) Will the Government use its influence with the Laotian Government to encourage them to seek a peaceful relationship with the Hmong people.

Senator Hill (Minister for Defence) —The Minister for Foreign Affairs has provided the following answer to the honourable senator's question:

(1) Yes.

(2) Yes. The Government, through the Australian Embassy in Vientiane, maintains an ongoing dialogue with the Lao Government on human rights issues, including on ethnic minority issues. The Embassy has met senior provincial and central government officials on several occasions to encourage a peaceful resolution to the issues of the treatment, resettlement and development of Hmong communities. It has also arranged training for Lao government officials on their human rights obligations.