The Ministry of Foreign Affairs held a workshop on the international obligations and national laws of the Lao PDR related to the media, on 28 June 2018, in Vientiane. The workshop was chaired by Mr. Phoukhong Sisoulath, Director-General of the Department of Treaties and Law, and attended by representatives of concerned ministries, news agencies and development partners.
Dr. Jayampathy Wickramaratne, the consultant to the CEGGA program was the resource person at the workshop, who made an introduction to the international norms related to the media, particularly the right to information and freedom of expression off-line and on-line, citing Article 19 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, the relevant General Comments of the UN Human Rights Committee, the Budapest Convention on Cybercrime. The expert observed that while freedom of expression is a fundamental human right, freedom of expression is not absolute and maybe subject to legitimate limitations which are permissible under international human rights law. The expert also outlined the results of his comparative analysis between the international norms and obligations and the domestic legislations of the Lao PDR related to the media, internet and cybercrimes. It was observed that the provisions of the amended Law on Media 2016 are largely in line with the international obligations of the Lao PDR.
Nevertheless, the expert also made an observation that there is room for improvement in the Law on Media and made concrete recommendations for such improvement. Some of the issues pointed out by the expert were technical inconsistencies or lack of clear and detailed wordings in some provisions of the domestic laws and legislations.
During the workshop, the participants had a constructive exchange among themselves and with the expert on those fore-mentioned topics and took note of the recommendations and discussed possible steps to address the identified gaps.
The workshop was supported through the CEGGA program which is funded by the European Union, the German-Lao Cooperation Program (Deutsche Zusammenarbeit) and the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation.