The 2015 Constitution of the Lao People's Democratic Republic does not explicitly protect the rights to life and to freedom from torture, it is stated that “The right of Lao citizens by their lives, bodies, dignities and shelters are inviolable.”.Art. 42, 2015 Constitution of the Lao People's Democratic Republic.According to Article 44 of the 2015 Constitution:
Lao citizens have the right and freedom of speech, press and assembly; and have the right to set up associations and to stage demonstrations which are not contrary to the laws.
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, 2015 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
The Lao Government has reported that in all situations, police officers have responsibilities under the Law on People’s Security Force. According to Article 10 of this Law, the People’s Security Force is responsible for preventing and suppressing any act of violence on Lao territory, preventing crimes and maintaining peace and security, securing the safety of state organizations, protecting lives and interests of the multi-ethnic people, protecting institutions, national social and economic infrastructures, national and international protocols, protecting embassies and international organizations, as well as ensuring the safety of foreigners living in Laos.
Regulations on the use of force and firearms by defence and security officials are said to be defined in Article 43(7) of the Law on People’s Security Forces. The text of this law is not, though, available in English.
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.