UNICRI and Lao Ministry of Justice
Strengthening the Criminal Justice System to counter the growing threat of organized crime

Vientiane, 7 April 2009. UNICRI, in cooperation with the Lao Ministry of Justice, has organized a meeting at the Settha Palace Hotel to present its mandate and activities, as well as its forthcoming engagement in the Lao PDR.

The meeting, which has been attended by Mr. Sandro Calvani, Director of UNICRI, and by Mr. Ket Kiettisack, Deputy Ministry of Justice, marks the beginning of a strategic cooperation aimed at the opening of an Office and a Training Centre in Vientiane, where courses will be delivered to judicial personnel (i.e. judges, prosecutors, police officers and government officials) in order to strengthen their capacity in preventing and countering the growing threat of organized crime.

Moreover, UNICRI will support the National University of Laos, Faculty of Law and Political Science, to strengthen the legal education in the Country. The programmes will last 5 years and will be founded by the Government of Luxembourg.
The relevant activities will be implemented by the United Nations Interregional Crime and Justice Research Institute, UNICRI, in close collaboration with the Government of the Lao PDR. UNICRI will be responsible for achieving its objectives through its permanent Office based in Laos and its programme management unit, in the respect of multilevel national and international linkages.

UNICRI’s presence in Laos is due to its longstanding expertise in the fields of crime prevention and justice reform in many areas of the world, and its willingness to put this expertise at the service of the Lao Government and its people.

During the last decade, a strong dynamism in the Mekong region has generated rapid change and improvements of living standards and conditions of many people in the Region. Lao PDR’s transition into a market economy is of particular importance, requiring strong adaptable structures and strengthened long term support.

Globalization has created a wave of new economic opportunities with the extension and continuing growth of the market economy; but it has also created a parallel growth of opportunities for shadow markets and transnational crime, which have expanded and diversified. Over the last years, the Lao PDR has been experiencing an alarming increase in organized crime, in particular trafficking in narcotics and illicit goods as a multi-sector economic crime, calling for immediate and urgent measures.

UNICRI would like to address these challenges in the Lao PDR through capacity building of judicial personnel, who, in the medium and long run, will be able to efficiently prevent and counter crime. UNICRI will also aim at strengthening the capacity of the National University of Laos in order to guarantee a high level of legal education in the country, thus putting the basis for a more fair and efficient justice system.

According to Mr. Sandro Calvani, Director of UNICRI, “The new cooperation we have established with the Government of Lao PDR is of crucial importance. Training, capacity building and legal awareness constitute the cornerstone to crime prevention and crime reduction in Laos. Legal education is the foundation for developing good governance and rule of law. Understanding contemporary crime trends derives from a good knowledge of contemporary global crime dynamics and targets: this can be considered the precondition to establish a judiciary responding to international standards and critical needs. Well educated lawyers who embrace fundamental values are the core that makes such systems possible.”

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