The 1991 Constitution of the Lao People's Democratic Republic (as amended through 2003) has been superseded by a 2015 Constitution although an English version of the more recent text is not publicly available.
The earlier Constitution contained specific human rights provisions in its Chapter IV (“Fundamental Rights and Obligations of Citizens”). Although the rights to life and to freedom from torture are not explicitly protected, it is stated that “the right of Lao citizens in their bodies, honour and houses are inviolable”.Art. 42, 1991 Constitution of the Lao People's Democratic Republic.The Constitution also protects the rights to freedom of assembly and to association, but this latter right as well as the right to stage demonstrations are made subject to domestic laws.Art. 44, 1991 Constitution of the Lao People's Democratic Republic.
There is no reference to the police in the Constitution. However, Chapter III emphasises the importance of “national defence and security” and obliges all organisations and Lao citizens to “protect the independence, sovereignty, and territorial integrity of the nation”.Art. 31, 1991 Constitution of the Lao People's Democratic Republic.Article 32 states that “the national defence and security forces must improve and strengthen themselves” and be the “main forces to ensure national stability, peace and social order”. Article 33 further stipulates that there must be a “strong military department in order to ensure implementation of tasks and contribution to national development”.
|1966 Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR)||State Party|
|ICCPR Optional Protocol 1||Not party|
|1984 Convention against Torture (CAT)||State Party|
|Competence of CAT Committee to receive individual complaints||No|
|CAT Optional Protocol 1||Not party|
|1998 Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court||Not party|
There is not yet a regional human rights treaty to which South-East Asian nations can adhere, although a non-binding human rights declaration was issued by the Association of South-East Asian Nations (ASEAN) in 2013.
Police Use of Force
Laos' 1990 Penal Law can potentially hold civil servants, including police officers, to account for "abuse of authority" which is "committed with the use of force, weapons, torture, indecent words or acts affecting the honour and reputation of the victim". A penalty is prescribed of three to five years' imprisonment for an offender and a fine from 2,000,000 Kip to 7,000,000 Kip.Art. 143, 1990 Penal Law.Negligence in the performance of duty could potentially cover instances of use of excessive force,Art. 145, 1990 Penal Law.although there is no available evidence that it has been implemented in this way.
There is no independent civilian police oversight body in Laos.
Views and Concluding Observations of United Nations Treaty Bodies
In its 2018 Concluding Observations on Laos, the Human Rights Committee noted concern about the lack of a prohibition on enforced disappearance and of torture in Lao domestic law, but did not otherwise address national legislation on police use of force.
There is no regional human rights body with jurisdiction to hear complaints as to unlawful police use of force in Laos.