Reprieve lawyer denied access to prisoner Samantha Orobator in Laos

May 5, 2009

Image of Samantha Orobator

Despite being scheduled to meet with Samantha Orobator today, Reprieve lawyer Anna Morris has been refused access to the prison. No explanation has been received from the Lao Authorities as to why the meeting was cancelled.

Samantha Orobator, 20, was arrested at Wattay Airport on 6th August 2008 on a drug smuggling charge. Since then she has been held in the notoriously abusive prison Phonthong prison and has never seen a lawyer. Reprieve was told last Thursday that her trial will take place this week.

Speaking from Vientane, Laos, at 1400 local time, Anna Morris said:

“I am deeply frustrated by the lack of access to this vulnerable young woman. This is preventing Reprieve from obtaining first hand knowledge of her welfare and how she is being treated in prison. I also do not have any news of a trial date, despite being told at incredibly short notice that it will take place this week. Reprieve is in Vientiane to ensure that Samantha’s basic human rights are respected and protected. We urge the Lao Authorities allow us access to speak Samantha as promised, to appoint her a Laotian lawyer and to conduct a fair and open trial process.”

A representative from the Laos government stated this morning on BBC World Service radio that Laos is prepared to sign a prisoner transfer agreement with the UK this week. We urge the British government to ensure a fair trial for Samantha and to bring her home as soon as possible to ensure her health and that of her unborn child.

-ENDS-

For more information please contact Katherine O’Shea at Reprieve’s Press Office katherine.oshea@reprieve.org.uk 020 7427 1099.

Notes for Editors:

Reprieve, a legal action charity, uses the law to enforce the human rights of prisoners, from death row to Guantánamo Bay. Reprieve investigates, litigates and educates, working on the frontline, to provide legal support to prisoners unable to pay for it themselves. Reprieve promotes the rule of law around the world, securing each person’s right to a fair trial and saving lives. Clive Stafford Smith is the founder of Reprieve and has spent 25 years working on behalf of people facing the death penalty in the USA.

Reprieve’s current casework involves representing 33 prisoners in the US prison at Guantánamo Bay, working on behalf of prisoners facing the death penalty, and conducting ongoing investigations into the rendition and the secret detention of ‘ghost prisoners’ in the so-called ‘war on terror.’

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