State & Law
Lao Hero

State & Law

Before 1975, different areas of Laos were ruled by different kings. In the 19th century the French came and Laos was integrated into French Indochina along with Vietnam and Cambodia. In October 1953, Laos was independent from France through the French – Laotian Treaty, the first Indochina War was finished, but the country didn't enjoy peace then. There were different political factions in Laos at the time, fighting for influence in different areas of the country. In the mean time, Indochina was ready to come into a new war with foreign involvement- the Second Indochina War, which would not come to an end in 1975.

In 1975 peace was brought back to Laos and the country was formally named Lao People's Democratic Republic. Lao People's Revolutionary Party who espoused the Marxist – Leninist Philosophy was declared the ruling party.

Lao State is organized into Legislative, Executive and Judiciary Powers:

Legislative Branch: elected by popular votes to serve a 5-year term. The last election was held in April, 2006 and 115 members were elected. The National Assembly makes decisions on fundamental issues and oversees administrative and judicial branches.

The National Assembly has the power to amend the constitution; to determine taxes; to approve the state budget; and to elect or dismiss the President and Vice President of State by two third votes, to approve the removal of the Governmental Members on the recommendation of the President of State; to elect and dismiss the Supreme Court President and Prosecutor General; to ratify treaties and make decisions on questions of war and peace.

The National Assembly meets twice a year on regular session. The Standing Committee of the National Assembly takes charge of the work which is within the power of the National Assembly and reports to the National Assembly at the next meeting session and may convene  irregular sessions if necessary.

Executive Branch:
The President who represents the nation is the head of state. The President and the Vice President are elected by the National Assembly for a 5-year term. The president presides over meetings of the government when necessary; appoints and dismisses members of the government with the approval of the National Assembly, the provincial governors and mayors of municipalities as well as generals of the armed forces, upon the recommendation of the prime minister. The President receives and appoints ambassadors and declares states of emergency or war.  The President is the chief of the armed forces and has the right and duty to promulgate laws and issue decrees and acts.

The Prime Minister is head of the Government who is nominated by the President and elected by the National Assembly for a 5-year term.

The cabinet is the Council of Ministers and Chiefs of ministry-equivalent departments who are appointed by the President and approved by the National Assembly.

Judicial Branch: People's Supreme Court and Public Prosecution Institute
The People's Supreme Court President is elected by the National Assembly on the recommendation of the National Assembly's Standing Committee; other judges of the People's Supreme Court and lower level courts are appointed and/or dismissed by the National Assembly Standing Committee.

The Public Prosecution Institute is to guarantee the uniform observance of the laws at all levels of the state bodies, of state personnels and citizens. The Public Prosecution Institute system includes the Supreme Public Prosecution Institute and others at lower levels. The Prosecutor General is elected and/or dismissed by the National Assembly

Many years after the proclamation of the State, Laos didn't have a complete set of legal documents. Most governmental acts were based on regulations. In November 1989, a criminal code and laws establishing a judicial system were adopted. In 1990 the judicial branch was upgraded: procedures for criminal cases and a court system were set up;  a law school was established to train the professionals. Also in 1990, the functions of the Supreme People's Court were separated from those of the office of the public prosecutor general.

On August 14, 1991 the first constitution in the history of Laos was passed. The constitution specifies the functions and powers of the various organs of the state at the central level including the National Assembly, the President, the Government and the Judicial System;  prescribes the organization of the political system. The constitution also defines the rights and duties of Lao citizens and sets forth the socio-economic that Laos is to follow.

The constitution recognizes Lao People's Revolutionary Party as the leading nucleus of the political system in exercising and ensuring the rights of the multi-ethnic people who are the masters of the country (Article 3). All state organs function in accordance with the principle of democratic centralism (Article 5).

The constitution recognizes that the state is to respect the principle of equality among ethnic tribes; the state respects and protects all lawful activities of the Buddhists and of other religious followers; protects the right of ownership including the right of transfer and inheritance; to undertake such tasks as managing the economy, providing education, expanding public health, and caring for war veterans, the aging, and the sick. The constitution recognizes the basic rights including freedom of religion, speech, press, and assembly. According to the constitution, women and men are proclaimed equal, and all citizens can vote at age eighteen and hold office at twenty-one. The citizens are obliged to respect the laws, pay taxes, and defend the country, which includes military service.

According to the constitution, Laos is composed of provinces, municipalities, districts, and villages. Leaders at each echelon must ensure the uniformity in the implementation of the constitution and the laws.

In 1993 the government began publishing an official gazette to disseminate laws, decrees, and regulations. The mechanism for making and promulgating laws starts to get more and more complete in Laos which gradually set the foundation for democracy in the country. If you are a legal eagle and would like to have a professional tour of Lao legal system, Private Vietnam Tours could offer you a complete trip guided by a local lawyer.