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Foreign experts help strengthen Lao criminal justice system

Article from: Vientiane Times News
Published: 26/04/2012
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( From left) Mr Leik Boonwaat, Mr Langsy Sibounheuang, and Mr Lacy Wright co-chair the workshop.


Vientiane, 10 June 2011 - Legal experts from the United States and Japan have given a boost to judicial practitioners working in the Lao criminal justice system, at a workshop held in Vientiane yesterday. Three distinguished foreign experts - a US federal judge, an FBI agent, and a Japanese prosecutor - briefed participants on criminal procedures in their respective countries, including the expected roles of law enforcement officers, prosecutors, judges, and private lawyers. The workshop provided information under the United Nations Office on Drug and Crime (UNODC) technical

assistance project in criminal justice. Participants heard about the application of the Law on Drugs; basic investigation techniques using computerbased training modules; a study tour on the application of the Drug Control Law and international cooperation in Thailand; and financial crime investigations and reporting on suspicious transactions to prevent money laundering. "Today's training is designed to deepen the lessons learned through previous training by comparing the roles of the major actors in different criminal justice systems in Laos, the United States and Japan," said UNODC Representative for Laos Mr Leik Boonwaat.

Mr Boonwaat said Laos is developing its legal system by enacting more laws and training judicial practitioners,

but criminal operations have been increasing in sophistication at an even greater speed, meaning the criminal justice sector is facing more challenges in bringing criminals to justice. Reconsidering the roles of practitioners in the criminal justice system through comparison with major systems in other countries is one way to strengthen the system in Laos, he added. Lao participants in the workshop came from people's prosecutor offices, courts, police offices, and the Lao Bar Association.

Laos is developing its legal system with the aim of becoming a state governed by the rule of law by 2020. Through the Office of the Supreme People's Prosecutor, the government has completed a draft amendment to the Criminal Procedure Law, which will be submitted to the National Assembly. "We are working to turn Laos into a state governed by the rule of law. Although we suffer from a shortage of high quality judicial practitioners, this workshop is a good opportunity to learn from foreign experts," said Deputy People's Prosecutor General Mr Langsy Sibounheuang.

The workshop was fully supported by the Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs of the US Department of State. Director of the Office of Law Enforcement and Narcotics Affairs of the US Embassy to Laos, Mr Lacy Wright, expressed his pride at US participation in strengthening the legal system in Laos.