Mr. Khammy Sayavong, Laos' Supreme Court President, recently disclosed that some 8,684 cases have come up for trial before the nation's courts at all levels during the past twelve months. The total number breaks down into 3,824 civil, 3,228 criminal, 1,067 involving family disputes, while the rest involves business conflicts and child pornography.
Mr. Sayavong went on to say that the majority of civil cases stems from disputes over properties and lands, while most criminal cases involve robberies, thefts, and drug trafficking. Perpetrators of these crimes are mainly poor, unemployed people, and students who have dropped out of school because of poverty.
A total of 4,157 cases have been tried and ruled on, but there is no word of how many suspects or defendents have been convicted or sentenced to prison. However, court rulings on some 1,473 of those cases still have not been carried on because of many reasons. Among them are, as noted by a high-ranking official in the Ministry of Justice, ambiguous rulings, lack of transparency and inefficiency of the judiciary system, as well as outside interference. And all that results in the people's mistrust of the system and of court rulings.
Meanwhile, the Minister of Justice says the increase in criminal cases is putting more financial pressure on the government who has to bear the responsibility of taking care of more convicted criminals, especially drug traffickers who are imprisoned for life. Convicted drug offenders must pay a five-million-kip penalty, but the majority never bother to pay, claiming that they have no money.
Listen to Songrit's report for more details in Lao.