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Lao PDR: Lao legislators sensitized to issues of corruption, transnational organized crime and terrorism


Vientiane, 6 April 2010 - The National Assembly of the Lao PDR held a semi-annual intersession programme from 30 March through 2 April 2010 in Pakxan, Bolikhamxay Province.  The programme was attended by more than 100 legislators, NA staff members, Government officials, UN staff members, and representatives from diplomatic corps and other development partners.

During the four-day programme, UNODC contributed to a session on "International Norms and National Legislation" and another session on "Parliaments Combating Transnational Organized Crime, Corruption and Terrorism" on the first and second of April, respectively.  Prior to the event, the Country Office assisted the National Assembly in designing the sessions, identifying pertinent Government experts and providing substantive input for them.  The Country Office was also requested to brief the National Assembly members on the United Nations Convention against Corruption (UNCAC) and the universal counter-terrorism instruments.

Having ratified the UNCAC in September 2009 based on the approval by the National Assembly's Standing Committee, the Lao PDR is now expected to implement the Convention through adapting its legislative and policy framework to the Convention's requirements.

During the session on International Norms and National Legislation, UNODC crime prevention expert Fumio Ito reviewed the UNCAC's major contents in comparison with current national legislation, and briefed NA participants on the mechanism of the implementation review by the Conference of the States Parties, in order to improve the Lao legislators' understanding of what needs to be achieved toward full implementation of the Convention.  Participants actively took part in the ensuing discussions, recognizing the current gaps between UNCAC and the national legislation, and reaffirming their bona fide wills to fight corruption.

In the session on TOC, corruption and terrorism, Dr. Somvang Thammasith of the Assembly's defense and security committee gave a presentation on the threats of transnational organized crime in the Lao context and the Government's responses in that regard.  Dr. Somvang stated that collection of basic data on crime is essential in preventing crime.  He also emphasized that the national legislation should fully implement obligations under the ratified conventions and the Government institutions should be strengthened to enforce new laws.

In October 2009, the Country Office had an opportunity to address the defense and security committee on the threats of transnational organized crime and expected responses.  The presentation by Dr. Somvang responded in its substance to the issues earlier raised by UNODC.

In this connection, Mr. Ketsana Phommachane, director of the Law Research and International Cooperation Institute of the Ministry of Justice, promoted and advocated the need to implement the UN Convention against Transnational Organized Crime (UNTOC), the UNCAC and the ratified conventions on counter-terrorism by identifying specific obligations that require amendment to the existing law, or the enactment of new laws.  At the end of the session, Mr. Ito briefed the National Assembly on the need to ratify the remaining 8 of the 16 universal counter-terrorism instruments, which the Lao PDR has not yet ratified.

Mr. Ito also briefed participants on the UNODC Terrorism Prevention Branch's (TPB) technical assistance available to the country.  Based in the East Asia and Pacific Regional Centre in Bangkok, UNODC's Terrorism Prevention Branch assisted the Country Office in preparing the presentation.

During the discussions that followed, National Assembly members reaffirmed their intention to ratify remaining conventions and implement ratified ones, while they recognized the technical and organizational obstacles to be overcome toward full implementation of the UN conventions on criminal justice matters.

The intersession programme is a National Assembly's self initiative to sensitize its members to various socio-economic policy issues.  In each semi-annual programme, experts on specified topics are invited from the Assembly, the Government ministries, UN agencies, NGOs and other stakeholders to brief the legislators.