10 June 2003


Belgian reporter and French cameraman detained in Vientiane

Incident details

Thierry Falise, Vincent Reynaut


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(RSF/IFEX) - RSF has called on the Laotian authorities to release two freelance journalists. Belgian reporter Thierry Falise and French cameraman Vincent Reynaut were arrested on 3 or 5 June 2003 after preparing a report on the desperate situation of the Hmong ethnic minority and the frequent clashes between Hmong rebels and the armed forces.

The two journalists, who are usually based in Bangkok, "were simply exercising their right to inform international public opinion about the situation of the Hmong minority," RSF said in a letter to Foreign Affairs Minister Lengsavat Somsavat, who is also deputy prime minister. Urging him to intervene to obtain the journalists' immediate and unconditional release, the organisation said their detention violates Laos' international commitments.

Reynaut and Falise, a regular contributor to the French news weekly "L'Express" and Belgian media, were arrested along with three or four Laotians on 3 or 5 June near Muang Soi, a village located northeast of the capital, Vientiane. The Fact Finding Commission, a United States-based pro-Hmong organisation, said an American citizen of Hmong origin, Naw Karl Mua, was killed at the time of the journalists' arrest.

Reynaut and Falise were reportedly first taken to Phonsavanh. On 7 or 8 June, they were transferred to Vientiane, where they are believed to be held at a police station. Falise's wife travelled to Vientiane, but has not been allowed to see her husband. The Laotian authorities have confirmed the journalists' arrest, diplomat sources in Vientiane said.

A recent report by "Time Asia" magazine highlighted the situation of the Hmong rebels, who were trained by the United States during the Vietnam war.


Reporters Without Borders
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