Rule of Law Challenges
The Lao PDR is the only landlocked country in the Greater Mekong Sub Region that shares long porous borders with all five neighboring nations. Due to its central location and the rapidly emerging economies of some its neighbors, the Lao PDR has become significantly affected by transnational threats from organized criminal groups.
Recent improvements in the Lao PDR's transportation infrastructure have increased the country's utility for the operations of traffickers of all sorts, who systematically use it as a transit route to neighboring countries with vast markets. Easier cross-border movement of persons facilitated by regional integration under the ASEAN's auspice has also been a factor in the escalation of trafficking in human beings from Laos to more developed neighbors, especially Thailand. In most cases, criminals engaged in cross border operations are well organized with sophisticated modus operandi. These transnational organized crime groups exploit existing loopholes to maximize profits, and diversify criminal activity. This contributes to undermining the rule of law.
The current global economic crisis as well as certain geo-political situations have seen significant increases in illicit transnational trafficking through the Lao PDR to the other higher population centers within the region. While minor traffickers have been arrested, it has been difficult to arrest major traffickers. The trafficking and abuse of synthetic drugs such as Methamphetamine and Ecstasy have replaced Opium as the major threat to public heath, national security and stability. Heroin, Marijuana and Cocaine also pose serious threats. Criminals are getting more sophisticated and the use of firearms and violence has become more common.
The UNODC Country Programme Framework for 2009-2013 aims to strengthen the Rule of Law in the Lao PDR, through 1-Enhancing responses to illicit activity and 2-enhancing capacity of the criminal justice sector. This includes capacity building of relevant government entities and strengthening of regional cooperation on law enforcement and criminal justice matters.