A lack of free or fair elections and one party rule for almost 40 years has warped civil society. Freedom of association is incredibly limited and government opposition regularly faces arbitrary arrest and harassment.
Social issues such as sexual orientation and HIV/AIDS remain taboo and individuals are regularly victims of discrimination. Although it has not been abolished, the death penalty has not been used since 1989.
Extrajudicial killings and disappearances are rare, but the public abduction by police and subsequent disappearance of the 2005 recipient of the Ramon Magsaysay Award for Community Leadership and prominent civil society advocate Sombath Somphone remains incredibly disturbing.