Laos says the death
penalty is still needed to deter traffickings in illicit drugs within and
through the country. In an interview
with VOA recently, Mr. Yong Chanthalangsy, spokesperson for the Lao Ministry of
Foreign Affairs, said Article 135 of Laos criminal laws, which deals with
penalties for drug traffickers, has been modified three times. And in the third
modification, the government increased the punishment to death penalty. However, Mr. Yong said even though Laos had
sentenced many traffickers to death, but up to now no death penalty has been
Amnesty International and the International Federation for Human Rights recently urged the Lao government to introduce an official moratorium on executions.
In a recently released
statement, Amnesty International and the Interenational Federation for Human
Rights said they have publicly categorized Laos as abolitionist in practice, as
of 2007. In a letter to the Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Lao PDR, both
organizations welcomed the absence of executions but pressed the Lao government
to go a step further by formalising the current de facto moratorium.
Ms. Janice Beanland, a campaigner against death penalty for Amnesty International in Southeast Asia said that Amnesty International had called on Lao authoriries to formalize a moratorium on executions. She said as far as Amnesty International is aware, there have been no executions carried out in Laos since 1989, and since last year, Amnesty International has classified Laos as abolitonist in practice.
In December 2007, Laos abstained in the vote on the UN General Assembly resolution 62/149 which calls for the promotion of moratorium on the use of death penalty, which was adopted by an overwhelming majority of states. But, Ms. Beanland said, it’s rather dissappointing that a month later Laos went on to support a statement circulated as a verbal note on 11 January 2008 to the General Assembly, in which 58 countries, including Laos, disassociate themselves with the resolution.
Mr. Yong, however, said that the position of Lao government on death penalty is to continue to support the existing laws in Laos.
Listen to the report for more details in Lao.