August 01, 2016

Laos Customs Department Attends First Workshop on Strengthening Integrity within the System

In May 2016, Peter Ritchie, the Regional Anti-Corruption Advisor (RACA) for ABA Rule of Law Initiative (ABA ROLI), trained the Lao People’s Democratic Republic (PDR) Customs Department (LCD) in the first of three workshops devoted to addressing integrity within the department. The LCD provides the crucial national service of collecting government revenue and preventing illicit trade in drugs, weapons and other contraband. The purpose of the workshop, which drew upon the technical assistance and financial support provided by ABA ROLI and the U.S. Embassy Vientiane, was to incorporate reforms for system integrity into a modern code of conduct for all Customs Department staff.  


The workshop  implemented group exercises for discussion on the organization’s vulnerabilities to corruption and potential opportunities to strengthen integrity through various channels, including human resource management and relationships with private business. 

Held in Vientiane, Lao PDR, the workshop was attended by senior managers and provincial officers who identified specific reforms to strengthen integrity and prioritized solutions to prevent corruption using the Arusha Declaration as a guide, the World Customs Organization’s guidance on anti-corruption and integrity development.  

Opening remarks were made by Mr. Somphit-Sengmanivong, the Customs Department's Deputy Director General, who stated that integrity and a code of conduct are crucial to the effectiveness of the organization. His concluding remarks pointed out that, although this was the first training of its kind received by the Lao Customs Department, efforts to improve accountability would need to continue after its conclusion to make a difference.

The workshop was designed to be interactive for its participants. It implemented group exercises for discussion on the organization’s vulnerabilities to corruption and potential opportunities to strengthen integrity through various channels, including human resource management and relationships with private business. The exercises conducted throughout the workshop culminated in three primary objectives: the code of conduct should be drafted by a working group of Customs Department and State Inspection Authority officers, the draft should incorporate the result of the self-assessment of the organization conducted during the workshop exercises and the working group (assisted by ABA ROLI) should develop a plan to implement a finalized version of the code of conduct and disseminate it.

The training received positive participant feedback and was featured in multiple Lao newspapers, including “Lao Phatthana” and “Socio-Economic News”, which highlighted the support of the U.S. for the Customs Department initiative.

To learn more about our work in Laos, contact the ABA Rule of Law Initiative at rol@americanbar.org