Lao EconomyRules and Law

Dishonesty Too Frequent In Court Verdicts, NA Members Say

Source: Vientiane Times

The abuse of power by some judges and dishonesty on the part of judges and defence lawyers so they can benefit from litigants was hotly debated by National Assembly (NA) members on Friday when they discussed a draft of the Law on Judges.

Article No.33, which refers to the limitations of judges, attracted the greatest attention from Assembly members. The seventh point of the article states that judges are prohibited from being legal advisors for litigants and from having any contact with them for the purposes of personal gain.

Assembly member for Champassak province, Mr Meksavanh Phomphithak, suggested the drafting subcommittee should make additional stipulations that would forbid judges and defence lawyers from conspiring in ways that would benefit them personally.

“I want to add some stipulations that would prohibit judges and defence lawyers or other parties from engaging in actions that would benefit them,” he said.

Mr Meksavanh said he wanted to inform those present about the all too common practice of judges and defence lawyers coming to an agreement that would bring them financial gain, which he said was currently prevalent in today’s courtrooms.

“As judges and defence lawyers are from the same camp, some defence lawyers tell their clients that the judges want a certain amount of money,” Mr Meksavanh added. “How can we solve this problem? People could die if they have no one to depend on and trust. They believed their lawyers would act in their defence but instead they cheated them,” he said.

“I want this law to ensure that judges understand they will have to face the consequences if they are dishonest,” Mr Meksavanh said, adding that if such a provision were included in the article, inspectors would be able to identify any offences committed by judges.

Judges must be relieved of their duties if they are found to be in breach of the law, he said, adding “That should not concern us; there are plenty of lawyers in Laos.”

He went on to say that the country would continue to be deprived of justice if this issue was not addressed.

National Assembly member for Xayaboury province, Brigadier General Khamsouk Vi-Inthavong, said he appreciated the effort made in trying to enact this law, saying that many of the provisions made in the draft were progressive.

He wanted the law to emphasise the standards of judges’ working methods, saying judges not only had broad knowledge and professional skills, but they must be trusted by the public through their judgment of cases. These should be based on fact and be in compliance with the law, ensuring justice and social contentment.

He reminded those present about unenforceable court verdicts, which are mainly verdicts that were not based on the evidence submitted. Judges must ensure fairness for all litigants, he added.

“Public trust in judges is very important. Court decisions must not result in conflict. Decisions made by the court should create peace because they are made in compliance with the laws and based on fact,” Brig. Gen. Khamsouk said.