Sarah helps ex-Laos prisoner Samantha Orobator

August 7, 2009 5:00 PM

Sarah Ludford met Jane Orobator when they shared a platform at a press conference organised by legal action charity Reprieve to mark the return to Britain from prison in the authoritarian communist state of Laos of Jane's daughter Samantha Orobator, who is Sarah's constituent. Samantha was convicted of drug smuggling after a travesty of a trial with a complete absence of due process. Sarah pressed the UK Foreign Secretary, the Lao government and EU authorities for action to get fair treatment for Samantha.

Threatened with the death penalty, Samantha was sentenced instead to life imprisonment on the grounds that Lao law does not allow execution of pregnant women. Samantha has been returned to the UK under a prisoner exchange agreement, but serious questions arise about the validity of the conviction and sentence under such circumstances of human rights abuses.

Sarah commented: "Samantha has had anything but a fair trial and if the UK government believes in the rule of law it must be open to a reconsideration of the justification for her detention. It is untenable for the UK and the EU as a whole to purport to respect legal systems which are unfree and unfair."

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