The French government has announced it will provide 410,000 euros (more than 4.1 billion kip) to support the execution of the Legal Sector Master Plan (LSMP) in Laos.

The support programme, which will be implemented through the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), aims to assist Laos to create a state based on the rule of law by 2020, and to aid in the introduction of legal reform to promote and protect people’s rights and access to justice.

UNDP Resident Representative to Laos, Mr Minh Pham, expressed his gratitude to France for joining his organisation in supporting legal sector reform in Laos.

“Their contribution comes at a critical time, as the country’s goal of establishing a rule of law state by 2020 also coincides with the goal of graduating from least-developed country status,” he said.

“The programme addresses crucial needs in strengthening institutional and human resource capacities to protect and advocate for people’s rights in the country.”

French Ambassador to Laos, Mr Yves Carmona, said the contribution was part of a larger French commitment to the LSMP, signed by Lao Minister of Foreign Affairs, Dr Thongloun Sisoulith, and his French counterpart, Mr Laurent Fabius, during a meeting last year.

“This programme is crucial because the rule of law is not only a development goal but also a condition of, and enabling environment for, inclusive development,” he said.

Deputy Minister of Justice, Professor Ket Kiattisak, thanked France and the UNDP for the assistance, calling both “strong supporters” of the legal sector.

“This agreement between France and the UNDP signals a new chapter in our country as their contribution under this particular agreement mainly goes to the much-anticipated establishment of a national judicial training institute,” he said.

The programme, to be launched in the third quarter of this year, is the first comprehensive legal programme in the country and will be implemented by the ministries of Justice, Foreign Affairs and Public Security, the office of the Supreme Public Prosecutor, and the People’s Supreme Court.

It will aim to provide stronger safeguards for the rights of all citizens, improve access to legal and justice institutions, and encourage the creation of more clear, consistent and responsive laws and regulations.

The grant from France is expected to contribute towards the establishment of a national judicial training institute and assist development of the Lao Bar Association and LSMP Secretariat.

The LSMP was officially adopted by the Lao government in September 2009, assessing the current needs of the legal system and providing a series of guiding principles for developing a rule of law state.

The French grant agreement was signed by Mr Carmona and Mr Pham, with Prof Ket, Vice President of the People’s Supreme Court, Mr Somboun Sonthikoumman, and other senior government officials and development partners in attendance.

France has been an important partner to the Lao government in strengthening the legal sector, and has committed a total of US$1.8 million for the period 2013-2015.

Source: Vientiane Times
June 26, 2013