Shaivalini Parmar is a Senior Associate with the Asia Division at Human Rights Watch. She holds an MA in Human Rights Law from the School of Oriental and African Studies and a BA in Human Rights from Bard College. Follow her on Twitter @ShaivaliniP.
For many Australians, Laos is a scenic, off-the-beaten path, holiday destination for adventurous travellers.
Relatively few know that it's also a repressive one-party state with a long record of restricting basic rights, and imprisoning or forcibly disappearing critics or citizens who dare to form groups or hold protests without government permission.
Last week, Australia had a chance to throw light on Laos' darker side when on 5 March, Canberra hosted officials from Vientiane for the fourth b