Lao People's Democratic Republic - Judicial system



The 1991 constitution provides for freedom of speech, assembly, and religion, although, in practice, organized political speech and activities are severely restricted. The reality of religious freedom is equally illusory, with imprisonment of Christian activists in recent years. The constitution contains provisions designed to guarantee the independence of judges and prosecutors, but in practice the courts appear to be subject to influence of other government agencies. Provincial courts are at the next level as appellate courts. There is also a central supreme court in Vientiane. In 1993 the government began publishing an official gazette in which all laws and regulations are disseminated. A bar association was formed in 1996 to strengthen the legal profession and individual rights to counsel. Rising crime rates place a burden on Laos's under-funded and understaffed legal system.

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