Australia encourages Lao to abolish death penalty

BYStaff Reporter


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Australia has encouraged Lao Peoples Democratic Republic to work towards abolition of death penalty and raised several human rights cases in the Republic.

The issues were discussed during Australia and the Lao PDR 6th Human Rights Dialogue held recently in Canberra.

Dr Justin Lee, First Assistant Secretary, Multilateral Policy Division of DFAT, co-chaired the Dialogue with Mr Douangmany Gnotsyoudom, Director General of the Department of Treaty and Law, Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Lao PDR, said a statement by DFAT issued on August 28.

Extensive range of issues, including civil and political rights, rights of vulnerable people, legal issues, engagement with international human rights mechanisms and bilateral cooperation on human rights in regional and international arenas came under discussion.

During the dialogue, Australia committed to continue supporting Lao PDR’s human rights-related efforts through the Australia-Lao PDR Human Rights Technical Cooperation Program.

Australian side raised individual cases of concern including prominent civil society leader, Sombath Somphone during the meeting. Sombath Somphone, was disappeared in the capital, Vientiane, in December 2012.

Visiting delegation provided updated information and explanation on circumstances surrounding each case and reaffirmed that all conducts and procedures were implemented based on its legal and policy frameworks.

Australia shared information on its Strategy for Abolition of the Death Penalty and encouraged the Lao PDR to work towards abolition.  The Lao PDR provided updated information on a reduction of number of articles carrying the death penalty in its newly adopted Penal Code.  The Lao PDR highlighted that the remaining articles aimed to deter the most serious crimes.

Both sides shared their experiences engaging with international human rights mechanisms, including UN treaty reporting obligations.  Australia committed to sharing its experience in the UN Human Rights Council if Lao PDR decided to run for a seat.

Following the Dialogue, the Lao delegation undertook a three-day study visit led by H.E. Mr Bounkeut Sangsomsak, Minister to the Prime Minister’s Office, Chairman of the National Steering Committee on Human Rights, coordinated by the Australian Human Rights Commission and supported by the Australian Government’s Australia-Lao PDR Human Rights Technical Cooperation Program.

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