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Constitution

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Translation Endorsed by the Law Committee of the National Assembly of the Lao PDR

LAO PEOPLE’S DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC
PEACE INDEPENDENCE DEMOCRACY UNITY PROSPERITY
________________

President’s Office

DECREE
of the
PRESIDENT
of the
LAO PEOPLE’S DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC

On the Promulgation of the
Amended Constitution of the Lao People’s Democratic Republic

Pursuant to Chapter V, Article 53, para graph 1 of the Constitution of the Lao
People’s Democratic Republic;

Pursuant to Resolution No. 25/NA dated 6 May 2003 of the National
Assembly of the Lao People’s Democratic Republic, adopting the Amended
Constitution of the Lao People’s Democratic Republic; [and]

Pursuant to Proposal No. 18/NASC dated 9 May 2003 of the Standing
Committee of the National Assembly.

The President of the Lao People’s Democratic Republic
Decrees That:

Article 1. The Amended Constitution of the La o People’s Democratic Republic is
hereby promulgated.

Article 2. This decree shall enter into force on the date it is signed.

Vientiane, 28 May 2003

President of the Lao People’s Democratic
Republic

[Seal and Signature]

Khamtay SIPHANDONE

Translation Endorsed by the Law Committee of the National Assembly of the Lao PDR

LAO PEOPLE’S DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC
PEACE INDEPENDENCE DEMOCRACY UNITY PROSPERITY
________________

National Assembly No. 25/NA
6 May 2003

CONSTITUTION
OF THE LAO PEOPLE’S DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC

PREAMBLE

The multi-ethnic Lao people have existed and developed on this beloved land
for thousands of years. Starting from the middle of the 14th century, during the time
of Chao Fa Ngum
1, our ancestors founded the unified Lane Xang country and built it
into a prosperous land. Since the 18th cen tury, the Lao land has been repeatedly
threatened and invaded by outside powers. Our people enhanced the heroic and
unyielding traditions of their ancestors and c ontinually and persistently fought to gain
independence and freedom.

Since the 1930’s, under the correct leadership of the former Indochinese
Communist Party and the present Lao People’s Revolutionary Party, the multi-ethnic
Lao people have carried out di fficult and arduous struggles full of great sacrifices
until they managed to crush the yokes of dom ination and oppression of the colonial
and feudal regimes, completely liberate th e country and establish the Lao People’s
Democratic Republic on 2 December 1975, thus opening a new era – an era of
genuine independence for the country and freedom for the people.

During [the years] since the country has been liberated, our people have
together been implementing the two stra tegic tasks of defending and building the
country, especially the undertaking of refo rms in order to mobilise the resources
within the nation to preserve the people’s democratic regime and create conditions to
move towards socialism.

Now, in this new period, the social lif e requires that the State must have a
constitution. This Constitution is the constitu tion of the people’s democratic regime in
our country. It recognises the great achievemen ts of our people in the course of their
struggles for national libe ration [and their] protectio n and construction of the
country[,] and [it] defines the political regime, the socio-economic system, the
regimes of national security, defence and fore ign affairs, the rights and obligations of
citizens and the system of organisation of state apparatus in the new period. This is
the first time in the history of our nation that the right of self-determination of the
1 This is a reference to King Fa Ngum.
1

Translation Endorsed by the Law Committee of the National Assembly of the Lao PDR

people has been defined in the fundamental law of the country.

This Constitution is the fruit of the process of the people’s discussions
throughout the country. It reflects the long-standing aspirations and strong
determination of the national community to strive together to fulfil the objective of
building Laos into a country of peace, i ndependence, democracy, unity and prosperity.

Chapter 1
The Political Regime

Article 1. The Lao People’s Democratic Republic is an independent country with
sovereignty and territorial integrity over it s territorial waters and airspace. It is
a unified country belonging to all mu lti-ethnic people and is indivisible.

Article 2. The State of the Lao People’s Democratic Republic is a people’s
democratic state. All powers belong to the people, [and are exercised] by the
people and for the interests of the multi-ethnic people of all social strata with
the workers, farmers and intelligentsia as key components.

Article 3. The rights of the multi-ethnic people to be the masters of the country
are exercised and ensured through the functioning of the political system with
the Lao People’s Revolutionary Party as its leading nucleus.

Article 4. (New) The people are to elect representatives, namely the National
Assembly, to ensure that their righ ts, powers and benefits are addressed.

The election of members of the Nati onal Assembly shall be carried out
through the principles of universal equa l direct suffrage and secret balloting.

Voters have the right to propose the removal of their own
representatives if they are found to behave in a way unbefitting their
[honourable positions] and to lose the people’s confidence.

Article 5. The National Assembly and other st ate organisations are established
and function in accordance with the prin ciple of democratic centralism.

Article 6. The State protects the freedom and democratic rights of the people
which cannot be violated by anyone. A ll state organisations and government
officials must disseminate and create aw areness of all policies, regulations and
laws among the people and, together with the people, organise their
implementation in order to guarantee the legitimate rights and interests of the
people. All acts of bureaucratism and ha rassment that can be detrimental to
the people’s honour, physical well-bei ng, lives, consciences and property are
prohibited.

Article 7. The Lao Front for National Construc tion, the Lao Federation of Trade
Unions, the Lao People’s Revolutionary Youth Union, the Lao Women’s
Union and other social organisations are the organs to unite and mobilise all
strata of the multi-ethnic people to take part in the tasks of protection and
construction of the country; to develop the right of self-determination of the
2

Translation Endorsed by the Law Committee of the National Assembly of the Lao PDR

people and to protect the legitimate rights and interests of members of their
respective organisations.

Article 8. The State pursues the policy of prom oting unity and equality among all
ethnic groups. All ethnic groups have the right to protect, preserve and
promote the fine customs
2 and cultures of their own tr ibes and of the nation.
All acts creating division and disc rimination among ethnic groups are
prohibited.

The State implements every measure to gradually develop and upgrade
the socio-economic levels of all ethnic groups.

Article 9. (New) The State respects and protects all lawful activities of
Buddhists and of followers of other reli gions, [and] mobilises and encourages
Buddhist monks and novices as well as the priests of other religions to
participate in activities that are benefici al to the country and people. All acts
creating division between religions a nd classes of people are prohibited.

Article 10. (New) The State manages the societ y through the provisions of the
Constitution and the laws. Party and state organisations, the Lao Front for
National Construction, mass organisations, so cial organisations and all citizens
must function within the bounds of the Constitution and the laws.

Article 11. (New) The State implements in all aspects the policy of national
defence and security with the partic ipation of all people, improving and
building the national defence and security forces to enhance their loyalty to the
country and people; [to enhance] their ab ility to carry out the duty to protect
the gains of the revolution, [and] the liv es, properties and labour of the people;
and to contribute to the tasks of nationa l development in order to progress to
enrichment and strength.

Article 12. The Lao People’s Democratic Republic pursues a foreign policy of
peace, independence, friendship and cooperation, and promotes relations and
cooperation with all countries on the basis of the [following] principles:
peaceful coexistence; respect for each other’s independence, sovereignty and
territorial integrity; non-interference in each other’s internal affairs; and
equality and mutual benefit.

The Lao People’s Democratic Repub lic supports the struggle of the
world’s people for peace, national i ndependence, democracy and social
progress.

Chapter 2
The Socio-Economic Regime

Article 13. (New) The national economy of the Lao People’s Democratic Republic
relies on a stable multi-sectoral economy which is encouraged [by the
government; such economy shall] expa nd manufacturing capacity, broaden
2 The Lao term connotes both customs and traditions.
3

Translation Endorsed by the Law Committee of the National Assembly of the Lao PDR

production, businesses and services, transform the natural economy into a
trading and manufacturing economy, and modernise; [while] combining with
regional and global economies to stabilise and develop the national economy
continuously and to improve the material and spiritual living conditions of the
multi-ethnic people.

All types of enterprises are equal before the laws and operate according
to the principle of the market econom y, competing and cooperating with each
other to expand production a nd business while regulated by the State in the
direction of socialism.

Article 14. (New) The State promotes the investment by all domestic economic sectors in production, businesses and servic es, to contribute to the industrial
transformation and modernization of, and to develop and strengthen, the
national economy.

Article 15. (New) The State promotes foreign investment in the Lao People’s Democratic Republic, [and] creates favor able conditions for the injection of
capital, for the use of technology and for introducing modern types of
management into producti on, businesses and services.

The lawful assets and capital of investors in the Lao People’s
Democratic Republic shall not be confiscated, seized or nationalised by the
State.

Article 16. The State protects and promotes a ll forms of property rights: State,
collective, private domestic and foreign investment in the Lao People’s
Democratic Republic.
3

Article 17. (New) The State protects the property rights (such as the rights of
possession, use, usufruct and disposition) and the inheritance rights of
organisations and individuals. Land is a national heritage, and the State
ensures the rights to use, transfer and inherit it in accordance with the laws.

Article 18. (New) The State manages the econom y in accordance with the
mechanism of the market economy regulated by the State, to implement the
principle of combining centralised management through the consensus of
central authorities with the delegation of responsibilities to local authorities in
accordance with the laws and regulations.

Article 19. All organisations and citizens must protect the environment and natural
resources: land surfaces, underground [r esources,] forests, animals, water
sources and the atmosphere.

Article 20. (New) The Lao People’s Democratic Republic implements open policies on economic cooperation with fore ign countries in different ways, on
a multilateral basis and in different forms on the basis of the [following] 3 The reader may wish to refer to the Proper ty Law for more information on the categories of
property rights.
4

Translation Endorsed by the Law Committee of the National Assembly of the Lao PDR

principles[:] respect for each other’s independence, sovereignty, equality and
mutual benefit.

Article 21 (New) The State attaches great importance to the development of the
economy in conjunction with cultural and social development by giving
priority to human resource development.

Article 22. (New) The State attends to developing education and implements compulsory primary education in order to build good citizens with
revolutionary competence, knowledge and abilities.

The State and society attend to developing high quality national
education, to create oppor tunities and [favourable] condi tions in education for
all people throughout the country, especi ally people in remote areas, ethnic
groups, women and disadvantaged children.

The State promotes private sector investment in the development of
national education in acc ordance with the laws.

Article 23. (New) The State promotes preservation of the national culture which is
representative of the fine tradition of the country and its ethnic people while
accepting selected progressive cultures from around the world.

The State promotes cultural activities , fine arts and invention, manages
and protects the cultural, hi storical and natural heritage and maintains antiques
and historical places.

The State attends to improving and expanding mass media activities
for the purpose of national protection and development.

All cultural and mass media activities which are detrimental to national
interests or the fine traditional cu lture and dignity of Lao people are
prohibited.

Article 24. (New) The State attends to promo ting knowledge and invention in
scientific and technological research and application, [and to] protecting
intellectual property while building up a community of scientists to promote
industrialisation and modernisation.

Article 25. (New) The State attends to improvi ng and expanding public health
services to take care of the people’s health.

The State and society attend to building and improving disease
prevention systems and providing health care to all people, creating conditions
to ensure that all people have access to health care, especially women and
children, poor people and pe ople in remote areas, to ensure the people’s good
health.

The State promotes private sector in vestment in public health services
in accordance with the laws and regulations.
5

Translation Endorsed by the Law Committee of the National Assembly of the Lao PDR

All unlawful public health services are prohibited.

Article 26. (New) The State and society attend to encouraging, supporting and
investing in public sports activities, including traditional and international
sports, [in order to] upgrade abilities in sport and to strengthen people’s health.

Article 27. (New) The State and society attend to developing skilled labour,
upgrading labour discipline, promoting vocational skills and occupations and
protecting the legitimate rights and benefits of workers.

Article 28. (New) The State and society attend to implementing policies on social
security, especially towards national he roes, soldiers, retired civil servants,
disabled people, [and the] families of those who have sacrificed their lives for
the revolution and who have cont ributed extensively to the nation.

Article 29. (New) The State, society and families attend to implementing
development policies and supporting the progress of women and to protecting
the legitimate rights and bene fits of women and children.

Article 30. (New) The State and society promot e, develop and [open up the
country to] cultural and historic al tourism and eco-tourism.

Tourism which is detrimental to the fine culture of the nation or which
contravenes the laws and regulations of the Lao People’s Democratic Republic
is prohibited.

Chapter 3 (New)
National Defence and Security

Article 31. (New) National defence and security are duties of the national defence
and security forces. They are the oblig ations of all organisations and Lao
citizens who must protect the indepe ndence, sovereignty and territorial
integrity of the nation, protecting live s and people’s property, [and] ensuring a
stable and sustainable people’s democracy.

National defence and security are car ried out in parallel with socio-
economic development.

Article 32. (New) The national defence and secu rity forces must improve and
strengthen themselves, enhance their loya lty to the nation, serve as the people’s
military force with real revolutionary sp irit, [observe] strict rules and modern
plans having high military competence, and be the main forces to ensure
national stability, peace and social order.

The State attends to supplying ma terials, techniques, technology,
means and equipment to and upgrading the knowledge, ability, professional
skills, strategy and tactic s of the national defence and security forces.

6

Translation Endorsed by the Law Committee of the National Assembly of the Lao PDR

Article 33. (New) The State and society attend to implementing policies to ensure
that the physical and mental condition of the national defence and security
forces is well maintained and to providing incentives to rear echelons of the
national defence and security forces to increase the capacity to protect the
nation and maintain peace in the society.

The national defence and security fo rces must endeavour to become
self reliant and build up a strong milita ry department in order to ensure
implementation of tasks and contri bution to national development.

Chapter 4
Fundamental Rights and Obligations of Citizens

Article 34. Lao citizens are persons who hold Lao nationality as provided by the
laws.

Article 35. Lao citizens are all equal before the law irrespective of their gender,
social status, education, beliefs and ethnic group.

Article 36. (New) Lao citizens aged eighteen year s and above have the right to
vote and those aged twenty years and above have the right to be elected,
except insane persons, persons with mental disorders and persons whose rights
to vote and to be elected ha ve been revoked by a court.

Article 37. Citizens of both genders enjoy equal rights in the political, economic,
cultural and social fields and in family affairs.

Article 38. Lao citizens have the right to receive education and upgrade
themselves.

Article 39. (New) Lao citizens have the right to wo rk and engage in occupations
which are not contrary to the laws. Wo rking people have the right to rest, to
receive medical treatment in times of illness, [and] to receive assistance in the
event of incapacity or disability, in old age, and in other cases as provided by
the laws.

Article 40. Lao citizens have the freedom of settlement and movement as provided
by the laws.

Article 41. (New) Lao citizens have the right to lodge complaints and petitions
and to propose ideas to th e relevant State organisations in connection with
issues pertaining to the public interest or to their own ri ghts and interests.

Complaints, petitions and ideas of citizens must be examined and
resolved as provided by the laws.

Article 42. (New) The right of Lao citizens in th eir bodies, honour and houses are
inviolable. Lao citizens cannot be arrested or searched without the order of the
7

Translation Endorsed by the Law Committee of the National Assembly of the Lao PDR

Public Prosecutor 4 or the people’s courts, except if otherwise provided by the
laws.

Article 43. Lao citizens have the right and freedo m to believe or not to believe in
religions.

Article 44. Lao citizens have the right and fr eedom of speech, press and assembly;
and have the right to set up associations and to stage demonstrations which are
not contrary to the laws.

Article 45. Lao citizens have the right and free dom to conduct studies in and to
apply advanced sciences, techniques and technologies; to create artistic and
literary works [;] and to engage in cultu ral activities which are not contrary to
the laws.

Article 46. The State protects the legitimate rights and interests of Lao citizens
residing abroad.

Article 47. Lao citizens have the obligation to respect the Constitution and the
laws, to observe labour discipline, [a nd to comply with] the regulations
relating to social life and public order.

Article 48. Lao citizens have the obligation to pay duties and taxes in accordance
with the laws.

Article 49. Lao citizens have the obligation to defend the country, to maintain the
security and to fulfil military service obligations as provided by the laws.

Article 50. The rights and freedoms of aliens and apatrids 5 are protected by the
laws of the Lao People’s Democratic Re public. They have the right to file
claims in the courts and [to lodge petitions with] other concerned
6
organisations of the Lao People’s Democr atic Republic and have the obligation
to respect the Constitution and laws of the Lao People’s Democratic Republic.

7

4 The term “Public Prosecutor” has been chosen because it is the English term commonly used
in Laos for this title/institution. Readers from common law jurisdictions should note that the Lao Public
Prosecutor has considerably more powers than public prosecutors in their home jurisdictions and is
more akin to a procurator in socialist systems. Another translation in common use is “People’s
Prosecutor”. Readers should also note that the term is principally used in the Constitution to refer to the
“office” or “organisation” of public prosecutors rather than to refer to individual prosecutors. Where
the context of a literal translation does not clearly i ndicate which of these two meanings is intended and
it is clear from the original that the office is intended, this translation shall use the term “the [Office of
the] Public Prosecutor”.
5 Readers may wish to refer to the Law on La o Nationality for the distinction between aliens,
apatrids (i.e. persons unable to certify their nationality) and foreign individuals.
6 The term “concerned” is used in the sense of “relevant”.
7 For readability, the structure of this sentence has been modified.

8

Translation Endorsed by the Law Committee of the National Assembly of the Lao PDR

Article 51. The Lao People’s Democratic Repub lic grants asylum to foreigners
who are persecuted for their struggle for freedom, justice, peace and scientific
causes.

Chapter 5
National Assembly 8

Article 52. (New) The National Assembly is the representative of the rights, powers and interests of the multi-ethnic people. The National Assembly is also
the legislative branch that has the right to make decisions on fundamental
issues of the country, [and] to oversee the activities of the executive organs,
the people’s courts and the Offi ce of the Public Prosecutor.

Article 53. (New) The National Assembly has th e following rights and duties:

1. To prepare, adopt or amend the Constitution;
2. To consider, adopt, amend or abrogate the laws;
3. To consider and adopt the determin ation, amendment or abrogation of
taxes and duties;
4. To consider and adopt strategic plan s for socio-economic development and
the State budget;
5. To elect or remove the President, the Vice-President and members of the
National Assembly Standing Committee;
6. To elect or remove the President and Vice-President of the State based on
the recommendation of the Nationa l Assembly Standing Committee;
7. To consider and approve the propos ed appointment or removal of the
Prime Minister based on the recommendation of the President of the State,
and to consider and approve the orga nisational structure of the government
and the appointment, transfer or re moval of members of the government
based on the recommendation of the Prime Minister;
8. To elect or remove the President of the People’s Supreme Court and the
Supreme Public Prosecutor 9 based on the recommendation of the President
of the State;
9. To decide on the establishment or di ssolution of the ministries, ministry-
equivalent organisations , provincial authorities and city authorities 10, and
to determine the boundaries of pr ovinces and cities based on the
recommendation of the Prime Minister;
10. To decide on granting amnesties;
11. To decide on the ratification of or [w ithdraw from] treaties and agreements
signed with foreign countries in accordance with the laws;
8 The reader may wish to refer to the Law on National Assembly for more information on this
institution.
9 The term “Supreme Public Prosecutor” is used to refer to the role or title of the highest-ranked
prosecutor in the country (akin to an Attorney-General). In Laos, some times, this title is translated as
“Prosecutor General”.
10 The generic word “city” is often interchangeab ly translated as “Vientiane City” (e.g., “city
authorities” is often translated as “Vientiane City authorities”) because Vientiane is, as of 2005, the
only city. The generic term has been used in this translation in anticipation that other cities may
emerge.
9

Translation Endorsed by the Law Committee of the National Assembly of the Lao PDR

12. To decide on matters of war or peace;
13. To oversee the observance and implementation of the Constitution and
laws; [and] 14. To exercise such other rights and perform such other duties as provided by
the laws.

Article 54. (New) The term of office of each Nationa l Assembly legislature is five
years.

Members of the National Assembly are elected by the Lao citizens in
accordance with the laws.

The election of a new National Assembly legislature must be
completed no later than sixty days prior to the expiration of the term of office
of the incumbent National Assembly [legislature].

In the case of war or any other circumstance that obstructs the election,
an [incumbent] National Assembly [legis lature] may extend its term of office
but it must carry out the election of the new National Assembly no later than
six months after the situation returns to normal.

If deemed necessary by the vote of at least two-thirds of all members
of the National Assembly attending th e session, such [incumbent] National
Assembly [legislature] may carry out th e election of [new] members prior to
the expiration of its term.

Article 55. The National Assembly elects its own Standing Committee which
consists of the President, the Vice -President and a number of members.

The President and Vice-President of the National Assembly are also
the President and Vice-President of the National Assembly Standing
Committee.

Article 56. (New) The National Assembly Standing Committee is the permanent body of the National Assembly, and is to carry out duties on behalf of the
National Assembly during the reces s of the National Assembly.

The National Assembly Standing Comm ittee has the following rights and
duties:

1. To prepare for the National Assembly sessions and to ensure that the
National Assembly implements its work plan;
2. To interpret and explain the provisions of the Constitution and the laws;
3. To oversee the activities of the execu tive organs, the people’s courts and
the [Office of the] Public Prosecutor during the recess of the National
Assembly;
4. To appoint, transfer or re move judges of the people’s courts at all levels
and of the military courts;
5. To summon the National Assemb ly into session; [and] 10

Translation Endorsed by the Law Committee of the National Assembly of the Lao PDR

6. To exercise such other rights and perfo rm such other duties as provided by
the laws.

Article 57. The National Assembly convenes its ordinary session twice a year at
the summons of the National Assembly Standing Committee.

The National Assembly Standing Committee may convene an
extraordinary session of the National Assembly if it deems it necessary.

Article 58. National Assembly sessions shall be convened only with the presence
of more than one-half of the total number of the National Assembly members.

Resolutions of the National Assembly shall be valid only when they
are voted for by more than one-half of the number of the National Assembly
members present at the session, except as otherwise provided in Articles 54,
66 and 97 of this Constitution.

Article 59. (New) The organisations and persons th at have the right to propose
draft laws are as follows:

1. The President of the State;
2. The National Assembly Standing Committee;
3. The Government;
4. The People’s Supreme Court;
5. The Office of the Supreme Public Prosecutor; [and] 6. The Lao Front for National Constructi on and the mass organisations at the
central level.

Article 60. Laws already adopted by the Nationa l Assembly must be promulgated
by the President of the State no later than thirty days after their adoption.
During this period, the President of th e State has the right to request the
National Assembly to reconsider [such laws]. If the National Assembly
affirms its previous decision after recons idering such laws, the President of the
State must promulgate them within fifteen days.

Article 61. Questions relating to the destiny of the country and the vital interests
of the people must be submitted [for the approval of] the National Assembly,
or the National Assembly Standing Committee during the recess of the
National Assembly.

Article 62. (New) The National Assembly establishes its own committees to consider draft laws and draft presidential edicts for submission to the National
Assembly Standing Committee and the President of the State; and assists the
National Assembly and the National Assembly Standing Committee in
exercising oversight of the activities of the executive organs, the people’s
courts and the [Office of the] Public Prosecutor.

Article 63. (New) Members of the National A ssembly have the right to
interpellate the Prime Mi nister or [other] members of the government, the
President of the People’s Supreme Court and the Supreme Public Prosecutor.
11

Translation Endorsed by the Law Committee of the National Assembly of the Lao PDR

Persons interpellated must give oral or written answers at the National
Assembly session.

Article 64. Members of the National Assembly shall not be prosecuted in court or
detained without the a pproval of the National A ssembly, or the National
Assembly Standing Committee during th e recess of the National Assembly.

In cases involving manifest or urgent offences, the organisation which
has detained the member of the National Assembly must immediately report to
the National Assembly or to the National Assembly Standing Committee
during a recess of the National Assembly for consideration and decision [on
further action concerning the member]. Investigations shall not [be conducted
in such a manner as to] prevent a prosecuted member from attending National
Assembly sessions.

Chapter 6
The President of the State

Article 65. The President of the State is the Head of State of the Lao People’s
Democratic Republic and the representative of the multi-ethnic Lao people
both within the country and abroad.

Article 66. (New) The President of the State is elected by the National Assembly with two-thirds of the votes of all members of the National Assembly
attending the session.

The term of office of the President of the State is the same as the term
of office of the National Assembly.

Article 67. (New) The President of the State has the following rights and duties:

1. To promulgate the Constitution and la ws already adopted by the National
Assembly;
2. To issue presidential edicts and decrees;
3. To propose the appointment or remova l of the Prime Minister to the
National Assembly for consideration and decision;
4. To appoint or remove the Prime Mini ster, [and to] appoint, transfer or
remove members of the government after approval by the National
Assembly;
5. To appoint or remove the Vice-Pres ident of the People’s Supreme Court
based on the recommendation of the President of the People’s Supreme
Court, [and to] appoint or remove the Deputy Supreme Public Prosecutor
based on the recommendation of th e Supreme Public Prosecutor;
6. To appoint, transfer or remove provi ncial and city governors based on the
recommendation of the Prime Minister;
7. To be the head of the people’s armed forces;
8. To decide on promotions or demoti ons at the rank of general in the
national defence and security forces based on the recommendation of the
Prime Minister;
9. To convene and preside at the government’s special meetings;
12

Translation Endorsed by the Law Committee of the National Assembly of the Lao PDR

10. To decide on conferring national gold medals, orders of merit, medals of
victory and the highest honorific titles of the State;
11. To decide on granting amnesty;
12. To decide on general or partial military conscription and to declare states
of emergency all over the country or in any particular locality;
13. To issue the ratification of or [secession from] treaties and agreements
signed with foreign countries;
14. To appoint and recall plenipotentiary representatives of the Lao People’s
Democratic Republic to or from foreign countries based on the
recommendation of the Prime Minister , and to accept the plenipotentiary
representatives of foreign countries accredited to the Lao People’s
Democratic Republic; [and] 15. To exercise such other rights and perform such other duties as provided by
the laws.

Article 68. (New) The President of the State may have a Vice-President as elected by the National Assembly with the votes of more than one-half of the number
of National Assembly members attending the session.

The Vice-President of the State ex ecutes all tasks assigned to him 11 by the
President of the State and act s on behalf of the President of the State if he is
[occupied on other matters].

Chapter 7
Government

Article 69. The government is the executive branch of the State.

The government administers in a un ified manner the implementation of
the State’s duties in all fi elds such as political, economic, cultural, social,
national defence and securit y, and foreign affairs.

Article 70. (New) The government has the following rights and duties:

1. To implement the Constitution, the laws and resolutions of the National
Assembly, and presidential edicts and decrees;
2. To submit draft laws and presidential edicts to the National Assembly and
[to submit] draft presidential decrees to the President of the State;
3. To determine strategic plans on soci o-economic development and annual
State budgets and to submit them to the National Assembly for
consideration and approval;
4. To report on its performance to the National Assembly, or to the National
Assembly Standing Committee (dur ing the recess of the National
Assembly), and to report to the President of the State;
11 The reader should note that the Lao language does not distinguish between genders in
pronouns. In this translation, a reference to a gend er is a reference to all genders, unless the context
requires otherwise. The translators’ decision to use the male gender was made in the interests of
simplicity and consistency.

13

Translation Endorsed by the Law Committee of the National Assembly of the Lao PDR

5. To issue decrees and resolutions on State administration, socio-economic
management, [and] management in th e fields of science and technology 12,
national resources, environment, national defence and security, and foreign
affairs;
6. To organise and oversee the activities of the sectoral organisations and local
administrations;
7. To organise and oversee the activities of the national defence and security
forces;
8. To sign treaties and agreements with foreign countries and guide their
implementation;
9. To suspend the implementation of or can cel decisions [or] instructions of
the ministries, ministry-equivalent organisations, organisations under the
government’s management, and local admi nistrations if they contradict the
laws; [and] 10. To exercise such other rights and perfo rm such other duties as provided by
the laws.

Article 71. (New) The government consists of the Prime Minister, Deputy Prime Minister[s], ministers and chairmen of the ministry-equivalent organisations.

The term of office of the government is the same as the term of office
of the National Assembly.

Article 72. (New) The Prime Minister is appointed or removed by the President of
the State after the approval of the National Assembly.

Article 73. (New) The Prime Minister is the head of the government, and
represents the government[; he] l eads and manages the work of the
government, ministries, ministry-equiva lent organisations, departments and
other organisations attached to the government; and leads and manages the
work of provinces and cities.

The Prime Minister appoints, transfers and removes Vice-Ministers,
Vice-chairmen of the ministry-equivalen t organisations, heads of department,
deputy governors, and deputy mayors of cities, and promotes and demotes
colonels in the national defence and security forces and other ranks as
provided by the laws.

The Deputy Prime Ministers are the as sistants of the Prime Minister
and execute the tasks assigned to them by the Prime Minister. The Prime
Minister may assign a part icular Deputy Prime Minist er to carry out work on
his behalf in the event that he is [occupied on other matters].

Article 74. (New) The National Assembly may pass a vote of no confidence in the
government or any member of the government if the National Assembly
Standing Committee or one-four th of the total number of National Assembly
members raises the issue.

12 In Lao, the term is “science, techniques, technology”.
14

Translation Endorsed by the Law Committee of the National Assembly of the Lao PDR

Within twenty-four hours after such vote of no confidence, the
President of the State has the right to bring the no confidence question to the
National Assembly for reconsideration. Such reconsideration must be held
within forty-eight hours from the first consideration. If the new vote of no
confidence is passed, the government or the member of the government must
resign.
Charter 8
The Local Administration 13

Article 75. (New) The Lao People’s Democratic Republic is divided into three
levels of local administration, namely provinces, districts and villages.

The provincial level consists of provinces and cities;
The district level consists of districts and municipalities; [and] The village level consists of villages.

Provinces are [governed by] governors, cities are [governed by] governors of cities, districts are [gove rned by] mayors, municipalities are
[governed by] chiefs of municipalitie s and villages are [administered by] village chiefs.

Governors, mayors, chiefs of municipalities and village chiefs have
deputies to assist them in their work.

If it deems it necessary, the National Assembly may decide to establish
a Special Zone. The Special Zone is equivalent to a province.

Article 76. (New) The governors of provinces and cities and the mayors of
districts have the follo wing rights and duties:

1. To ensure the implementation of the Constitution and the laws, and to
implement decisions and orders i ssued by higher-level authorities;
2. To guide and oversee the activities of all sectoral [organisations] and all
levels of authorities und er their jurisdiction;
3. To suspend or cancel the decisions of sectoral [organisations] at their own
or lower levels, which contradi ct the laws and regulations;
4. To manage citizens [and,] within the sc ope of their rights and powers under
the laws, to consider and resolve the complaints and proposals of the
people; [and] 5. To exercise such other rights and perfo rm such other duties as provided by
the laws.

Article 77. (New) The chiefs of municipalities have the rights and duties to plan,
implement and administer urban devel opment and public services throughout
13 Readers may wish to refer to the Law on Lo cal Administration for more information on these
institutions. Readers should note that this new Constitution employs slightly different terminology for
the different levels of local administration and the heads of local administration. As of 2005, not all
laws use the same terminology for such heads.

15

Translation Endorsed by the Law Committee of the National Assembly of the Lao PDR

the municipality, to ensure order and cleanliness 14 in accordance with urban
planning, and to exercise such other ri ghts and perform such other duties as
provided by the laws and regulations.

Article 78. The village chiefs have the re sponsibility to organise the
implementation of the laws, decisions and orders of the State, to maintain the
peace and public order of the village, and to develop the villages in all fields.

Chapter 9
People’s Courts and Public Prosecutor

Article 79. (New) The people’s courts constitute the judicial branch of the State and consist of:

• The People’s Supreme Court;
• The appellate courts;
• The people’s provincial courts and city courts;
• The people’s district courts; [and] • The military courts. 15

In the event that it is deemed necessary, the National Assembly
Standing Committee may decide to establish a special court.

Article 80. (New) The People’s Supreme Court is th e highest judicial organ of the
State.

The People’s Supreme Court administ ers the people’s courts at all
levels and the military courts, and examines and reviews the decisions reached
by them.

Article 81. (New) The Vice-President of the Peopl e’s Supreme Court is appointed
or removed by the President of the St ate based on the recommendation of the
President of the People’s Supreme Court.

The National Assembly Standing Co mmittee appoints, transfers and
removes [the following judicial positi ons] based on the recommendation of the
President of the People’s Supreme C ourt: judges of the People’s Supreme
Court; the president, vice-president and judges of appellate courts, provincial
courts, city courts and dist rict courts; [and] the heads, deputy heads and judges
of the military courts.
16

Article 82. The people’s courts make decisions in panels. In their adjudication,
judges must be independent and st rictly comply with the laws.

14 The Lao word has the connotation of “clean and beautiful”.
15 Readers may wish to refer to the Law on People’s Court for more information on the
jurisdictions and functions of these courts.
16 For readability, the structure of this sentence has been modified.
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Translation Endorsed by the Law Committee of the National Assembly of the Lao PDR

Article 83. Cases shall be conducted in open cour t proceedings except if otherwise
provided by the laws. Defendants ha ve the right to defend themselves.
Lawyers have the right to provide le gal assistance to the defendants.

Article 84. Representatives of social organisati ons have the right to take part in
court proceedings as provided by the laws.

Article 85. (New) Decisions reached by the people’s courts, when final, must be
respected by Party organisations, St ate organisations, the Lao Front for
National Construction, mass organisations, social organi sations and all
citizens, and must be implemente d by the concerned individuals and
organisations.

Article 86. (New) The Office of the Public Prosecutor has the duty to monitor the implementation of the laws. The Office of the Public Prosecutor consists of:

• The Office of the Supreme Public Prosecutor;
• The Office of the Appellate Public Prosecutor;
• The offices of the Public Prosecuto r at provincial and city levels;
• The offices of the Public Pros ecutor at district level; [and] • The Office of the Military Prosecutor.

The Office of the Public Prosecuto r has the following rights and duties:

1. To monitor the correct and uniform im plementation of laws and regulations
by all ministries, ministry-equivalent or ganisations, organisations attached
to the government, the Lao Front for National Construction, mass
organisations, social orga nisations, local administra tions, enterprises, civil
servants and citizens; [and] 2. To exercise the right of public prosecution.

Article 87. (New) The Office of the Supreme Public Prosecutor supervises the
activities of the offices of the Public Prosecutor at all levels.

The Deputy Supreme Public Prosecu tor is appointed or removed by the
President of the State based on the recommendation of the Supreme Public
Prosecutor.

Public prosecutors and deputy public prosecutors at the appellate level,
provincial level, city level and district level, and military prosecutors, are
appointed, transferred or removed by the Supreme Public Prosecutor.

Article 88. (New) In carrying out their duties, th e public prosecutors are subject
only to the laws and the instructions of the Supreme Public Prosecutor.

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Translation Endorsed by the Law Committee of the National Assembly of the Lao PDR

Chapter 10
Language, Script, National Emblem, National Flag, National Anthem, National Day, Currency and Capital City

Article 89. The Lao language and Lao script ar e the language and script officially
used.

Article 90. The National Emblem of the Lao People’s Democratic Republic is a
circle depicting in the botto m part one-half of a cog wheel and red ribbon with
inscriptions [of the words] “Lao People’s Democratic Republic”, and [flanked
by] crescent-shaped stalks of fully-ripe ned rice at both sides and red ribbons
bearing the inscription “Peace, Independence, Democracy, Unity, Prosperity”.
A picture of That Luang Pagoda is located between the tips of the stalks
of
rice. A road, a paddy field, a forest and a hydroelectric dam are depicted in the
middle of the circle.

Article 91. The National Flag of the Lao People’s Democratic Republic is dark
blue with red edges and a white moon in the middle of the flag. The height of
the flag is two-thirds of its width. The height of each red edge is one-half of
the height of the dark blue area. The [diameter of the] white moon is four-
fifths of [the height of] the dark blue area.

Article 92. The national anthem of the Lao People’s Democratic Republic is the
“Xat Lao” song.

Article 93. (New) The national day of the Lao Pe ople’s Democratic Republic is
the day of the proclamation of the Lao People’s Democratic Republic which is
2 December 1975.

Article 94. (New) The currency of the Lao People’s Democratic Republic is the Kip.

Article 95. The Capital City of the Lao People’ s Democratic Republic is Vientiane
Capital City.
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Translation Endorsed by the Law Committee of the National Assembly of the Lao PDR

Chapter 11
Final Provisions

Article 96. (New) The Constitution of the Lao People’ s Democratic Republic is a
fundamental law of the nation. All laws must comply with the Constitution.

Article 97. Only the National Assembly session of the Lao People’s Democratic
Republic has the right to amend the Constitution.

Any amendment to the Constitution requi res the affirmative votes of at
least two-thirds of the total number of the National Assembly members.

Article 98. (New) This Constitution enters into force on the date of the
promulgating decree issued by the President of the Lao People’s Democratic
Republic.

Vientiane, 6 May 2003
President of the National Assembly

[Seal and Signature]

Samane VIYAKHET
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