BANGKOK — A US admonition to Laos over its shaky human rights record spurred efforts Tuesday to halt the possible deportation from Thailand of a former ethnic leader to the authoritarian Southeast Asian nation.
Rights activists said former ethnic Hmong rebel leader Moua Toua Ter is being held at an immigration detention center in Bangkok, while they and at least one Western embassy made representations on his behalf to the Thai government. They fear he faces severe persecution if returned to his homeland.
Concern over his fate came after the United States took Laos to task for failing to account for the disappearance of a prominent social activist.
Secretary of State John Kerry said Laos’s failure to provide significant information about the case of award-winning activist Sombath Somphone is raising questions about the government’s commitment to the rule of law and engaging responsibly with the world — notwithstanding its recent accession to the World Trade Organization.
‘‘Mr. Sombath’s disappearance resurrects memories of an earlier era when unexplained disappearances were common,’’ Kerry said in a statement timed for the 100-day anniversary of the activist’s disappearance Monday.
Sombath was last seen in closed-circuit video footage when he was stopped at a police checkpoint in the capital, Vientiane, on Dec. 15, but the Lao government denies knowledge of his fate.