Reprieve welcomes the prisoner transfer agreement signed and ratified by the government of Laos

May 7, 2009

Image of Samantha Orobator

Reprieve welcomes the Prisoner Transfer Agreement signed today in London and ratified by the Lao government. We ask that the Agreement be fast-tracked to ensure that, should Samantha be convicted, she may return to Britain before June 6th when she enters her third trimester of pregnancy.

We also call on the Lao government to allow Samantha the full support of Reprieve’s independent counsel during her trial. Thus far, despite travelling 9,344 km on the Lao promise of full legal access to Samantha, Reprieve counsel Anna Morris has been denied the chance to even meet her.

Reprieve also expresses concern at the purported bribery solicitation received today, and requests that the Lao government conduct an investigation into it.

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 where she became pregnant in early December.

Samantha has now been appointed a state-appointed Lao lawyer for her trial, thought be scheduled for next week. However, independent Reprieve lawyer Anna Morris is still being denied access to Samantha. It is difficult for Samantha to establish a relationship of trust with an appointed lawyer so close to trial, particularly when she knows that independent Reprieve counsel are being excluded.

Reprieve urges the Lao government to allow Anna Morris confidential and immediate access to Samantha. Samantha is 5 months pregnant and enduring the most stressful of circumstances. As this trial proceeds, Reprieve’s main concern is for her health and that of her unborn child. Reprieve has written today to the Lao authorities to request an investigation into the bribery solicitation received today; sent by someone purporting to be connected to the Lao authorities. Reprieve expresses no opinion on the genuineness of the demand, but it is obviously a threat to the impartiality of the Lao legal system.

“We hope that all the efforts of past several days will bear fruit,” said Reprieve director Clive Stafford Smith. “But it must be recognized that Samantha faces the most stressful experience of her life, and we very much fear for 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.’

Reprieve
PO Box 52742
London EC4P 4WS
Tel: 020 7353 4640
Fax: 020 7353 4641

Email: info@reprieve.org.uk
Website: www.reprieve.org.uk

Reprieve is a charitable company limited by guarantee; Registered Charity No. 1114900. Registered Company No. 5777831 (England).
Registered Office: 2-6 Cannon Street, London, EC4M 6YH
Chair: Lord Bingham; Patrons: Alan Bennett, Julie Christie, Martha Lane Fox, Gordon Roddick, Jon Snow, Marina Warner