LAOS: National Laws

Summary: General overview of Laos's national legal provisions on children's rights, including guidance on how to conduct further research.

National laws on children's rights

Status of the CRC in national law
The precise status of the CRC in domestic law is unclear as the Constitution does not specify the status of treaties and conventions in national law. In practice, however, conventions are treated as aspirational rather than enforceable, and the Government is tasked with implementing international obligations in domestic legislation and policy. The CRC is not directly applicable in courts, and the sole power to resolve conflicts between international and domestic law rests with the Government.

The 1991 Lao Constitution makes only two explicit references to children. These provisions are article 20, which requires that “[t]he State [pay] attention to pursuing the policy toward mothers and children”, and article 19(3), which provides that “primary education should be compulsory”.

The Law on the Protection of the Rights of Children came into force in 2007 and contains a number of provisions on healthcare, family registration, childcare, child protection, social assistance, and monitoring and enforcing children's rights. In addition, a small number of legislative acts have been identified as the source of much of the law pertaining to children include, but are not limited to: 

  • The Law on the Protection of the Rights and Interests of Children

  • The Family Law (Presidential Decree No. 97/PO, 25th Dec. 1990)

  • The Penal Law (Presidential Decree No. 04/PO, 9th Jan. 1990)

  • The Law of Criminal Procedures (Presidential Decree No. 34/PO 14th Jun. 2004)

  • The Law on Court Procedures

  • The Labour Law (Presidential Decree No. 24/PO, 21st Apr. 1994)

  • The Family Registration Law

  • The Lao Nationality Law (Presidential Decree No. 35/PO, 15th Jun. 2004)

Legal Research
The National Assembly of Laos maintains an official website in English (, which offers press releases and full text versions of some legislation. English translations of Lao laws can also be found via the Asian Legal Information Institute (, and an English translation of the Constitution of the Lao People's Democratic Republic can be found through the United Nations website ( The U.S. Library of Congress ( and World Legal Information Institute ( have also compiled links to a variety of relevant legal and government resources.

Case law
CRC Jurisprudence
Please contact CRIN if you are aware of any cases in national courts that reference the Convention on the Rights of the Child.

Case Law Research
Case law in Laos is not widely accessible online. The highest national court in Laos is the People's Supreme Court, which does not maintain an official website.

Compliance with the CRC
In its 2011 Concluding Observations, the Committee on the Rights of the Child welcomed the 2007 Law on the Protection of the Rights and Interests of Children and noted that “certain principles and provisions of the Convention are incorporated into laws addressing fundamental rights and freedoms”, but also regretted that “the status of the Convention is unclear and that the Constitution does not give prevalence to its provisions over national laws.”

In depth analysis:
The Committee has noted with concern several areas of Laotian law relating to violence, physical and sexual abuse affecting children. The Development and Protection of Women Act 2004 has sought to address abuse affecting women and girls, but the Committee has highlighted the ongoing prevalence of physical and sexual abuse and the taboo around the subject. Committee recommendations have focussed on developing a reporting and complaints mechanism to combat such abuse. While corporal punishment is prohibited in primary schools, the Committee has expressed concern about reports of its use by teachers as a form of discipline. The practice also remains lawful in the home, and is not explicitly prohibited in alternative care settings.

The principle of the best interests of the child is largely present in relevant law, including the Constitution and the Law on the Protection of the Rights and Interests of Children, but the Committee has noted that the principle is not regularly applied in judicial and administrative proceedings. Similarly, respect for the views of the child is not a firm part of the judicial process, as children do not have the right to be a witness or bring complaints, nor can they seek reparations without the consent of their parents.

The Committee's 2011 Concluding Observations also raised a number of more specific issues relating to the rights of children. The Committee was particularly critical of the absence of laws and regulations on the sale of alcohol and tobacco products to children. The gap between the minimum age of employment (15 years) and the end of compulsory education (11/12 years) was also a matter of concern, with the Committee commenting that the gap would lead to children working illegally and in potentially dangerous situations.

Current legal reform projects
Please contact CRIN if you are aware of any current legal reform projects.    

Please note that these reports are hosted by CRIN as a resource for Child Rights campaigners, researchers and other interested parties. Unless otherwise stated, they are not the work of CRIN and their inclusion in our database does not necessarily signify endorsement or agreement with their content by CRIN.