National Assembly of Lao PDR amends key law to strengthen child protection
The amended Law on the Protection of the Rights and Interests of Children was approved by the National Assembly of Lao PDR on 17 July 2023.
The National Assembly of Lao PDR has approved the amended Law on the Protection of the Rights and Interests of Children on 17 July 2023, marking a key milestone in protection and promotion of children's rights in Lao PDR.
With UNICEF’s support, the 2006 law was reviewed and amended in alignment with the key principles of the Convention on the Rights of the Child, including the best interest of the child and child participation. To better reflect the perspectives of children in the process, the Ministry of Justice carried out a series of consultations with children in the capital city and six provinces, which are Xayabouly, Luang Prabang, Bolikhamxay, Vientiane, Savannakhet and Champasak. A total of 106 child representatives from various backgrounds, including children with disabilities, children who are out of school, children from ethnic groups, children in contact with the law, children previously affected by substance abuse, neglect and abandonment, and children in institutions participated in the group discussions and individual interviews.
The amended law asks for the exemption of the birth registration fee and reflects the Lao Government's commitment and prioritization of child protection systems strengthening and the development of the social service workforce. It also enhances the accountability of law enforcement and the oversight and coordination structure.
Under the amended law, the roles and responsibilities of relevant Ministries and agencies are clearly defined and the coordination structure is strengthened. In place of the current Child Protection and Assistance Committee (CPAC), chaired by the Vice Minister of Labour and Social Welfare, the Committee for the Protection of the Rights and Interests of Children will be established and led by the Deputy Prime Minister for enhanced coordination in protecting and advancing child rights in the country.
The amended law assigns the Ministry of Labour and Social Welfare to lead in developing a data and information management system and mobilizing the funds for the protection of the rights and interests of children. These provisions represent the government's commitment to implementing the concluding observation by the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child on the state party report (2018). The Ministry of Justice will collaborate with the Law Committee of the National Assembly to finalize the amended law, which will be submitted to the Presidential Office for promulgation by the end of 2023.
The amendment of the Law on Protection of the Rights and Interests of Children was supported by funding from UNICEF Australia and the Australian Government.