Customary Law Report highlights traditional justice practices among ethnic groups

Dec 4, 2012

Minh Pham, UNDP Resident Representative and Dr. Chaleune Yiapaoher, the Minister of Justice, launching the Report on Customary Law and Practice in Lao PDR

Vientiane, 4th December 2012 - The Customary Law Report is the first of its kind to assess customary justice practices among the 49 officially recognized ethnic groups in Lao PDR and is a step forward in incorporating customary practices into the overall legal system, a key requirement in establishing a rule of law state by 2020.

His Excellency Dr. Chaleune Yiapaoher, the Minister of justice, and Minh Pham, UNDP Resident Representative, launched the report today at the Lao Plaza Hotel.

The report findings clearly show that customary law continues to play a significant role in the legal structure of Lao PDR, with each ethnic group having its own unique customs and practices to resolve local conflicts, particularly among communities in remote areas.

Speaking at the launch, His Excellency Dr. Yiapaoher said, “We will be using the data and information from the report when drafting and revising laws. In addition, the report will also be used as a reference for promoting equality and access to justice of all in compliance with the international human rights standards which Lao PDR has ratified”.

Minh Pham said that customary practices continue to play an important role in people’s lives, despite the modernization of the country, “There is a need to develop a national customary law strategy so that we can approach the informal justice system in a more systematic way and strike a good balance in the use of informal and formal justice systems.”

As Lao PDR implements the Legal Sector Master Plan and works towards establishing a rule of law state by 2020, harmonizing the informal justice system with the formal will help make the legal system more coherent and consistent.

The report findings will support the development of a national strategy on customary law, the drafting of guidelines on how to combine customary laws with state laws, and the development of a database covering customary laws and practices across the country.

The Ministry of Justice initiated the Customary Law Report in 2008, with support from the United Nations Development Programme. The Report covers all 49 ethnic groups across all 17 provinces.

Contact information

Oraxone Vissapra, UNDP                                                                                        Email:
Tel: +856 (0)21 267 729

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