U.S. Department of State Country Reports on Terrorism 2005 - Laos
|Publisher||United States Department of State|
|Author||Office of the Coordinator for Counterterrorism|
|Publication Date||28 April 2006|
|Cite as||United States Department of State, U.S. Department of State Country Reports on Terrorism 2005 - Laos, 28 April 2006, available at: http://www.refworld.org/docid/46810819c.html [accessed 23 November 2014]|
Although the Government of Laos has positive intentions regarding counterterrorism, weak enforcement procedures and inefficient security organizations hamper the implementation of multilateral agreements. Border security is poor, and Laos unwittingly could be used as a safe haven for terrorists. Since 2002, Laos consistently has denounced international terrorism and expressed a willingness to cooperate with the international community on counterterrorism. Its actions, however, have mostly been disappointing, due to both a lack of resources and skill and an attitude among Lao officials that Laos could not become a target of international terrorism. In spite of the presence of a domestic insurgency that has employed terrorist tactics, such as ambushing civilian buses and bombing civilian targets, Lao officials at many levels see terrorism as an issue of only marginal relevance to Laos; they believe that Laos, as a small and neutral country, would not be targeted by international terrorists.
Laos experienced a handful of bombings conducted by suspected anti-government groups in 2005, but no injuries or deaths were reported. The Bank of Laos vetted government and commercial bank holdings for possible terrorist assets, as identified by U.S.-provided lists of terrorist organizations and individuals, and has issued freeze orders for assets of organizations and individuals named on these lists. However, the Bank has yet to take steps to report on its implementation of the provisions of UNSCR 1373 (Laos is late in submitting its third report to the CTC) or to require the freezing of assets of individuals and entities included on the UNSCR 1267 Sanctions Committee's consolidated list.
At UN and U.S. request, Laos continued efforts to identify assets of terrorists and sponsors of terrorism. The Bank of Lao issued freeze orders for assets of organizations and individuals named in lists provided by the United States. Lao authorities issued orders limiting the amount of cash that can be withdrawn from local banks and strengthened reporting requirements of state and privately owned commercial banks. Banking regulation remains extremely weak, however, and the banking system is vulnerable to money laundering and other illegal transactions.
Laos does not have a separate counterterrorism law. The Lao judicial system, however, is prepared to prosecute acts of terrorism as serious crimes under the Lao criminal code, and recent amendments to the criminal code have strengthened counterterrorism sanctions.
Laos' border security is weak; border officials cannot effectively control access to the country. Since 9/11, Lao authorities have strengthened airport security, but security procedures at both airport and land immigration points remain lax compared with most other countries in the region. In addition, official Lao identity documents, including passports and ID cards, can be purchased from corrupt officials.
There are no areas of the country where terrorists are relatively free to operate. Laos does have a small insurgency numbering perhaps 1,000 to 2,000 persons, including women and children, that is based in very remote areas of the north. Insurgents were responsible for a series of attacks against passenger vehicles along Route 13 in northern Laos in early 2003. These attacks led to the deaths of approximately two dozen civilians.