7 July 2003

Alert

Journalists detained for one month without any concrete progress


Incident details

Thierry Falise, Vincent Reynaud

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(RSF/IFEX) - As of 4 July 2003, journalists Thierry Falise of Belgium and Vincent Reynaud of France have been detained in Laos for one month. After their trial on 30 June, they were transferred to Phontong prison in Vientiane, which is reserved for foreigners, where they are currently held.

The Thierry Falise and Vincent Reynaud Support Committee is pleased to note that the Laotian ambassadors to France and Belgium recently said the two journalists and their American interpreter could be released soon. On 4 July, the Laotian ambassador to Belgium also told Falise family members and a RSF representative that the three could be pardoned and freed before 13 July. The committee awaits concrete progress towards their release.

The committee is also concerned by the 8 July visit to Paris of the Laotian information and culture minister, who is to be received by UNESCO and the French senate. He is the minister in charge of supervising news reporting in Laos. As such, he represents the authorities who monitor and punish people like Falise and Reynaud who try to work freely as journalists.

The committee continues to campaign for the immediate and unconditional release of Falise, Reynaud and those who were working with them. In the meantime, the committee calls for an improvement in their detention conditions: more spacious cells, regular exercise periods and weekly visits by their wives and diplomats.

Statements of protest and support for the two journalists have been pouring in since their trial. More than 13,000 people have already signed the online petition on the committee's website.

On 3 July, the European Parliament adopted a resolution calling for the two European journalists' immediate release and condemning the deteriorating human rights situation in Laos.

The committee calls on Belgian and French diplomats to redouble their efforts to obtain the release of the two journalists, their American interpreter and the Laotians who were accompanying them.

BACKGROUND:
Belgian reporter Thierry Falise, a regular contributor to the French news weekly "L'Express", and French cameraman Vincent Reynaud were arrested on 4 June in the northeastern province of Xieng Khuang with their interpreter, Rev. Naw Karl Mua, an American of Hmong origin, and four Laotians. They were finishing a documentary about the Hmong minority at the time of their arrest. On 30 June, the Laotian authorities sentenced them to 15 years in prison for "obstructing the exercise of authority". The ambassadors of their respective countries and their wives were able to visit them on 3 July. They are in good health, but have requested better detention conditions.

For more information on the Thierry Falise and Vincent Reynaud Support Committee, see http://www.free-faliseand-reynaud.com.The website has an online petition and information about a support fund for the families.



Source

Reporters Without Borders
47, rue Vivienne
75002 Paris, France
rsf (@) rsf.org


Fax:+33 1 45 23 11 51
Laos
 
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