Lao officials ready to strengthen their drug law investigation and prosecution through international cooperation
Article from: UNODC Lao
Vientiane, 10 June 2011 - A group of drug control officers, police officers, prosecutors, judges, legal officers and health officers working on drug law enforcement in Lao PDR are highly motivated to strengthen their practices in investigating, prosecuting and deciding drug trafficking cases according to law and further promote international judicial cooperation. They recently returned from a successful study tour on "Investigation and Prosecution of Drug Trafficking Cases and International Cooperation in Criminal Matters" in Thailand from 29 May to 4 June 2011, organized by the UNODC project LAOI95 "Development of the National Drug Law Enforcement Strategy" with strong support by the Thai Office of the Narcotic Control Board (ONCB).
The study tour visited major Thai Government authorities working on suppression of drug trafficking and organized crime - ONCB, the Police Narcotics Suppression Bureau (NSB), the Anti-Money Laundering Office (AMLO), the Drug Appeals Court, the Criminal Court and the Office of the Attorney General (OAG). In each visit, the participants had very active discussion on technical and practical issues in applying drug law to actual cases. One participant expressed his satisfaction with the study tour, stating, "While I have several occasions to participate in similar kinds of study tours abroad, I have never seen such a productive tour as the current one. I am very happy that I have much to learn, think and discuss in every session." The study tour had such a series of productive sessions because the participants themselves, with UNODC's assistance, had identified topics they would like to discuss and learn and shared them with the recipient Thai authorities in advance. Responding to commitment and expectations shown by the Lao side, the Thai authorities prepared visits in very professional manners under superb coordination led by ONCB.
The Lao officials also visited UNODC Regional Centre, where they were briefed on UNODC regional programmes, the project PATROL and the project Towards AsiaJust. Mr. Gary Lewis, UNODC Regional Representative emphasized need to strengthen networks among law enforcement and judicial authorities both nationally and internationally to combat criminal networks by stating "It takes a network to defeat a network."
The study tour participants, who are also national experts on the application of drug control law designated by the Government, are expected to revise the training materials which they earlier compiled for a workshop in 2010 based on what they learned from the study tour. With UNODC's assistance, they plan to continue training of field-level officers with revised materials later this year.