The Lao Bar Association (LBA) is struggling to implement the professional rights of defence lawyers in regards to protecting and bringing justice to their clients.
LBA President Mr Ounheuan Kaenpaseuth made the comment when delivering a report on the achievements of the association over the past three years at the sixth nationwide meeting of defence lawyers held in Vientiane yesterday.
“All defence lawyers should strive to carry out their work effectively and uphold their rights as stipulated by the law in regards to protecting the rights and interests of individuals and legal entities in accordance with the law,” he said when speaking about the association’s future plans.
The Law on Defence Lawyers stipulates 22 points regarding the rights and obligations of defence lawyers in relation to criminal and civil procedures.
Article No. 19 stipulates defence lawyers have the right to meet with individuals or legal entities who will be their clients or clients assigned to them after being detained, arrested or imprisoned.
Mr Ounheuan said even though the law gives them the right in theory, in practice they are often prevented from visiting clients by police or prison wardens.
According to the law, defence lawyers also have the right to examine, copy, or take note of all documents filed in a court case but in reality this doesn’t always happen, Mr Ounheuan said.
In an interview with Vientiane Times which he gave concurrently with the meeting, Mr Ounheun said defence lawyers are not invited by the related units to participate in hearing the court decision of which their client is a party.
He said in response to lawyers’ queries, the courts often claim they invited all parties to the lawsuit and supposed the lawyers would be informed by their clients. To address the problem, he suggested the court invite defence lawyers directly to attend the hearing of cases with which they are concerned.
Currently, the Lao Bar Association has 183 members and its structure comprises administrative, technical, free legal aid, and international cooperation offices. It also has representative offices in seven provinces with two free legal aid offices.
The association has provided legal assistance in more than 1,700 cases over the past three years, with 96 parties receiving free legal aid. Around 3,000 individuals and legal entities received legal consultation from the association’s lawyers.
Minister of Justice Prof. Dr Chaleun Yiapaoher praised the achievements of the association, whose members as lawyers have not only provided legal aid in court cases but also participated in explaining laws to grassroots communities, which has led to a decrease in crimes and disputes.
“All these activities by lawyers, including the provision of legal knowledge to ordinary people, have contributed to maintaining social order,” he said.
Dr Chaleun called on the association to continue improving its political ideology and the professional knowledge of its lawyers.
LBA Vice President and Inspection Head Mr Voratsamy Soulipaphanh co-chaired the meeting with Prof. Dr Chaleun Yiapaoher and Mr Ounheuan Kaenpaseuth.
published with the permission of Vientiane Times