Access to justice critical for national development

Feb 29, 2012

A new report highlights the importance of access to justice for all Lao people to achieve the country's national development goals, including the 7th National Socio-Economic Development Plan (NSEDP) and the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs).

The People's Perspective on Access to Justice Survey in Four Provinces of Lao PDR report was launched on Wednesday 29 February at the Mercure Hotel.

The report, produced by the Lao Bar Association and United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), aims to fill a significant knowledge gap about people's access to justice in Lao PDR and to highlight people's knowledge, interactions with, and perceptions of justice and the justice system.

According to Mr. Ounheuan Kenepaseuth, President of the Lao Bar Association, the survey report provides an important measure for the relevant authorities to improve and develop the justice system in Lao PDR. “This is vital to ensure that all Lao multi-ethnic people, especially the poor in remote areas, vulnerable people, women, and children, are able to practice their legal rights fully and have access to justice equally under the law,” he said.

The UNDP Resident Representative, Mr. Minh Pham, said that “Equitable and sustainable growth can only be attained if the rights of ordinary citizens and poor and disadvantaged groups are actively ensured and protected. Access to Justice is a key pillar in this regard.” He added that realizing this will support the country's ambitious development plans and ultimately to graduate from Least Developed Country status by 2020.

The report survey was conducted in 4 provinces - Khammouane, Oudomxay, Sekong, and Vientiane – covering twenty-four villages in eight districts. The 600 respondents were drawn from a cross-section of Lao society and the survey used quantitative (questionnaire) and qualitative (real-life example) data to examine people's perceptions of the law and judicial institutions.

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