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Enhancing regional cooperation in the criminal justice sector in Lao PDR

Vientiane (Lao PDR), 2 March 2010 - Participants in the second meeting of the Sub-Working Group on Crime (SWGC), which was held in Vientiane on 19 February, discussed ways to move forward on the implementation of the National Drug Law Enforcement Strategy and to enhance regional cooperation in the criminal justice sector through the anticipated participation of the Lao People's Democratic Republic in the new UNODC programme entitled "Towards AsiaJust", which will begin this year.

"The goal of the National Drug Law Enforcement Strategy is to expand the scope of our responses in the global age to more sophisticated, more transnational crime," said UNODC crime expert Fumio Ito.

A comprehensive 15-point outline of the Strategy was presented to SWGC members for comments. The Strategy is in line with the National Drug Control Master Plan (2009-2013) of the Lao People's Democratic Republic, and will be drafted and submitted to the Group by the next meeting.

Strengthening the capacity of civil society, law enforcement agencies and the criminal justice sector were identified as priorities. Issues such as cross-border illicit activities (such as drug trafficking, human trafficking and the smuggling of migrants) that profit from the country's location at the centre of the Greater Mekong subregion, rapid economic growth and improved transportation infrastructure were also highlighted and discussed.

The Lao People's Democratic Republic has shown its commitment to supporting global efforts to combat transnational crime, as proven by its ratification of all the United Nations conventions against illicit drugs, the United Nations Convention against Transnational Organized Crime and the United Nations Convention against Corruption, as well as eight counter-terrorism conventions. Yet, despite the fact that the national legal framework includes laws enabling the tools and instruments to respond to transnational crime, rules and guidelines allowing legal practitioners to implement these tools continue to be lacking.

In this regard, UNODC submitted three concept papers for consideration by SWGC. The papers contain various activities to be implemented as part of the ongoing project entitled "Development of the National Drug Law Enforcement Strategy" in order to tackle priority areas in a timely manner.

The presentation on the - Towards AsiaJust, programme was given by Joonmyoung Lee from the UNODC Regional Centre for East Asia and the Pacific, located in Bangkok. The presentation highlighted changes in the nature of transnational organized crime, the expansion of the mandate of UNODC beyond the drug conventions and the regional programme framework of UNODC, along the lines of which the "Towards AsiaJust" programme was designed.