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US launches new programme to strengthen the rule of law in Laos

The United States on Friday launched a three-year Legal Aid Support project at the Ministry of Justice aiming to strengthen the rule of law in Laos.
The US$3.67 million programme is funded by the US Agency for International Development (USAID) and the US-based McConnell Foundation, and will be implemented by The Asia Foundation and the Ministry of Justice.

A Memorandum of Understanding was signed on Friday by the Director General of International Cooperation, Ministry of Justice, Mr Ketsana Phommachanh, and Country Representative for The Asia Foundation in the Lao PDR, Mr Todd Wassel. The ceremony was attended by senior officials from the ministry and invited guests.
The signing was witnessed by the Minister of Justice, Mr Xaysi Santivong, and the US Ambassador to the Lao PDR, Mrs Rena Bitter.
Speaking at the signing ceremony, Ambassador Bitter said the project demonstrates the United States’ firm commitment to support the Lao PDR in its efforts to strengthen the rule of law.
The Legal Aid Support project helps Laos to promote the rule of law through the fairer, more consistent, and more transparent delivery of justice according to the law - inclusive of women, the poor and traditionally underserved populations.
The programme will support the Ministry of Justice to provide legal aid services in Oudomxay, Phongsaly, Savannakhet, Luang Namtha, Champassak, Xayaboury, Luang Prabang, Saravan, and Vientiane provinces, and to conduct capacity and institutional strengthening at the national level in Vientiane.
USAID and The Asia Foundation will also support the Lao Bar Association to promote legal aid and provide pro bono services, improve educational and networking opportunities for its members, and increase the provision of legal aid, especially in provinces where there are currently very few lawyers who can assist citizens.
“It represents the newest chapter in our partnership to ensure a strong, prosperous, and independent Laos at the heart of Asean,” Ambassador Bitter said.
In addition to promoting the rule of law, the United States works in partnership with the Lao government and people of Laos to remove unexploded ordnance as a barrier to development, improve education, promote health and nutrition, and facilitate trade and investment.

By Phetphoxay Sengpaseuth
(Latest Update January 28, 2020)

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