Rules and LawSecurity

NA Seeks Radical Changes To Law On Criminal Procedure

Source: Vientiane Times

National Assembly members are pressing for amendments to the Law on Criminal Procedure in the hope it will resolve various problems that have arisen in the past.

Members spent the whole of Tuesday debating a draft amendment to the law. Their intention was to ensure it complied with the constitution and other laws, specifically the Law on Public Prosecutors and the Law on People’s Courts.

The amendments would mean that criminal procedures in Laos would fall in line with procedures in the region and internationally, and ensure effective cooperation and assistance in the field of criminal justice. The changes would also help to combat and prevent crime, they believed.

The amendments focus on the investigation process; investigation methods and prevention measures; trials at courts of first instance, appeals court, and the highest court; and verdict enforcement.

The fourth paragraph of Article No. 83 of the draft states that investigations by organisations at the central level are defined in a separate regulation.

Assembly member for Luang Namtha province, Mr Kongphet Keobuapha, said he wanted the law to define the kinds of criminal cases these organisations undertake, to prevent loopholes.

Concerning people who are alleged to have committed offences in various locations, the amendment states that the location of the last offence should be where the defendant is tried. If an accused person has committed offences of varying severity, the law stipulates that the location of the most serious offence should be where the trial takes place.

Mr Kongphet also wanted the law to spell out the costs involved in transporting the accused to the place of trial.

He also called for the law to prohibit the detention of persons taken for questioning.
“Suspects taken by officials for questioning have often been detained for lengthy periods. This violates their right to freedom,” he said.

He wanted authorities in the province where a trial was being conducted to have the right to arrest anyone implicated in the case if they were in another province. Giving the right of arrest to authorities in other provinces had caused problems in the past. Assembly member for Huaphan province, Colonel Aen Oun-Anongnouth, wanted the law to include audio clips in cases of matter-of-fact offences.

Another amendment to the law concerns pregnant women. Col. Aen told the Assembly about an example of a complication in the prosecution of a pregnant woman who was accused of drug dealing.

He said the woman was detained in Vientiane with 26,000 amphetamine pills but was released under a 75 million kip bond. However, she fled a few months later.

Police in Sisattanak district arrested the same woman this year with 4,000 amphetamine pills. She now has a new name and is six months pregnant.

“I want this law to prevent accused women from being intimate with their husbands,” Col. Aen said.
Safety measures for witnesses, the collection of legal exhibits and their certification, together with victims’ rights, were among the other interesting issues debated by Assembly members.