Laos Publishes First Penal Code

Laos Publishes First Penal Code

Laos has officially published its Penal Code in a move to strengthen rule of law and access to justice in the country.

The event was held during an official visit to Laos by the European Commissioner Neven Mimica.

Commissioner Neven, alongside Lao Minister of Justice Xaysy Santivong, and the Minister for Development Cooperation and Humanitarian Affairs of Luxembourg, Ms Paulette Lenert, witnessed the handover of the first Penal Code of the Lao PDR.

A penal code, or a criminal code, is a document that compiles all, or a significant amount of, a particular jurisdiction’s criminal law. The code typically contains offences which are recognized in the jurisdiction, penalties which might be imposed for these offences and some general provisions.

Photo: European Union in Laos

Laos first adopted the code in May 2017, taking effect on November 1, 2018, after several years of intensive technical working meetings and consultations. The published code was officially presented on September 10.

The enactment of the penal code means that it not only provides amendments to the Penal Law of 2005 but also incorporates the criminal provisions of twenty other laws including the enterprise law, preventing and combating violence against women and children, protection of the rights of children, healthcare law, and environmental protection law, into one code.

Many of these laws have seen increased penalties or have stipulated additional acts that constitute offenses. The penal code also includes a section that criminalizes the abuse of animals.

The Lao government plans to disseminate the code across the country with an aim to further support the rule of law and access to justice. It is also expected to make referencing laws easier for relevant authorities, such as investigative officials, prosecutors, and judges.