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NA President Calls On Judiciary To Tackle Laxity Within Its Ranks

Source: Vientiane Times

Lack of strong leadership, measures and inspection methods, combined with poor coordination, are causing incompetency in the justice sector, leading to an increase in violations of the law over the past year.

This was the assessment of National Assembly (NA) President Pany Yathotou when summing up the work of the justice sector at a national meeting last week.

“Violations of the law are on the increase as is evidenced in various undesirable practices,” Ms Pany said.
Such misconduct harmed the legitimate rights and interests of the public through the use of loopholes in the laws and dishonesty by government officials together with thieves to embezzle state property and the property of innocent people, who lacked legal knowledge.

“The offenders have yet to be punished,” Ms Pany, who is a Politburo member, said.

Negligence in building legal awareness among their employees by leaders and selfishness and lax ethics on the part of government officials sometimes led to violations in the implementation of their duties, she added.

Misconduct also occurred in the recategorising of civil cases as criminal cases and the detention of suspects without a prosecutor’s order.

Ms Pany said there had been negligence when carrying out in-depth investigations and the comprehensive, professional and legal analysis of cases. There was also a lack of coordination between the related sectors, which meant that innocent people were found guilty of crimes they did not commit.
“These practices contravene Party guidelines, which state that punishment must be meted out to offenders and innocent people must be protected under the law,” she noted.

A lack of inspection mechanisms as well as inspections carried out by higher authorities of their subordinate organisations and individuals to monitor their work, together with disorganised inspections at all levels, also caused deficiencies in the work of the justice sector.

The slow addressing of public complaints and petitions, and disputes related to justice were also among the shortcomings, with many people’s queries going unanswered.

More than 21,000 prosecutions took place in 2017 (5,660 civil cases and 1,569 criminal cases), a 12.5 percent increase on 2016.

Ms Pany advised the Ministry of Justice to investigate why many court verdicts were not enforced, and asked how this situation was dealt with.

Ministry leaders were told to supervise their subordinates in ordering the death of prisoners, which should be submitted to the government and National Assembly Standing Committee for consideration.
The NA President also recommended investigations into the measures concerning prisoners who had completed their term, but had yet to recover their economic losses. She reminded meeting participants of the Law on Criminal Procedure, which stipulates that prisoners have to work to earn money so they can recover their economic losses.

She called for checks on final decisions made by the courts at every level, saying decisions that were incorrect must be returned to the prosecutor for reconsideration. Judges who made incorrect decisions should be investigated and penalised appropriately.

Article No. 7 of the Law on Verdict Enforcement states that this must be carried out accurately and transparently, observed by all parties, and with strictness, speed and justice.

“However, practices in relation to verdict enforcement have yet to comply with all these criteria,” Ms Pany said.

There have been public complaints concerning verdict enforcement officials in relation to the way they carry out property inspections and sales announcements, she added. Assessments were sometimes made in the absence of property owners while officials estimated the value of property to be less than its true worth.

She suggested that the ministry have a specific regulation or instruction on the details of their practices so that everyone was in agreement about their implementation.