Repatriation of pregnant drug smuggler held up by $70,000 fine

July 16, 2009 at 1:24 pm 1 comment

A 20-yearold British woman who has been convicted of smuggling heroin into Laos cannot be repatriated because the country’s authorities want her to pay her fine first.

Lord Ramsbotham raised the case of Samantha Orobator, who is pregnant, in the Lords yesterday.

Bill Rammell, the then Minister of State at the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, informed the All-Party Group of the Abolition of the Death Penalty that she would be repatriated from Laos to the United Kingdom by the middle of June, he said.

Foreign and Commonwealth Office minister Lord Malloch-Brown, said he hoped Ms Orobator will be able to transfer to the UK before the birth of her child.

“We have proposed to the Lao authorities a memorandum of understanding to enable the transfer before the UK/Lao prisoner transfer agreement is formally ratified,” he told peers.

“However, it is unclear whether the Lao authorities will agree the transfer prior to payment of the $70,000 (£42,610) fine imposed on Ms Orobator in addition to her life sentence.”

He said it would be wrong for the government to pay the fine.

“My Lords, her situation as someone pregnant with a child is one of particular humanitarian concern, but I do not want anyone to be misled about the gravity of her offence,” he said.

“She was found with 680 grams of heroin concealed on her body at the time of her arrest. I can confirm to the noble Lord that she has waived the right to appeal; she accepted the sentence.

“The difficulty is that, under the prisoner transfer agreement, we would not, when she returned here, have the power to enforce her to make that payment, which is why it has become such an obstacle.

“However, in this case we would have no difficulty with those who wished to support her making that payment.”

Lord Ramsbotham said the application for Ms Orobator’s transfer was forwarded on 17 June.

“A month has gone by and there is the problem of the last date by which she may be allowed to fly back by an airline,” he said.

“Bearing in mind that to facilitate this transfer she has revoked her right to appeal and any suggestion that she might have been raped in prison, has the Minister any hope that this may be speeded up?”

Lord Malloch-Brown said time is running out.

“12 August is thought to be the last date by which she could travel. We have had regular consular contact with her, most recently at the end of last week.

“I am pleased to say that she and the unborn child are in good health. They have been visited by a doctor attached to the Australian embassy in Laos. The issue is that the Laotian authorities want the fine imposed on her paid before she can leave.”

Conservative spokesman Lord Howell of Guildford said “while we could not for one moment condone any kind of drug trafficking or that sort of thing, we would fully support any efforts the Minister made were there room for additional pressure for compassion.”

Lord Malloch-Brown said the UK government is in “regular contact” with the Laotian authorities to try and persuade them to proceed with the prisoner transfer.

“Others are looking at ways that perhaps some payment could be made. We are trying to get clarity from the authorities on whether partial payment would be sufficient.

“The noble Lord should be in no doubt that we are leaving no stone unturned to get this unlucky woman and her child home.”


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1 Comment Add your own

  • 1. seeharhed  |  July 16, 2009 at 3:35 pm

    she did the crime and should be pay for it… good thing she is pregnant, otherwise she would be long gone by now..


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