The Lao People’s Democratic Republic is ruled by its only constitutionally legitimate party, the Lao People’s Revolutionary Party (LPRP). The most recent National Assembly election held in 2016 was not free and fair. The LPRP selected all candidates, and voting is mandatory for all citizens. Following the election the National Assembly approved Thongloun Sisoulith to be prime minister.
The Ministry of Public Security maintains internal security and is responsible for law enforcement; the ministry oversees local, traffic, immigration, and security police, village police auxiliaries, and other armed police units. The armed forces, under the Ministry of Defense, also have some domestic security responsibilities, including counterterrorism, counterinsurgency, and border security. Civilian authorities maintained effective control over the security forces.
Significant human rights issues included: arbitrary detention; political prisoners; censorship; substantial interference with the rights of peaceful assembly and freedom of association; restrictions on political participation; corruption; and trafficking in persons.
While the government prosecuted and punished officials for corruption, there were no prosecutions or punishments for officials who committed other abuses, and police and security forces committed human rights abuses with impunity.