Drug War Nightmare For British Woman In Laos Prison

CANNABIS CULTURE – The nightmare continues for a 20-year-old British woman who was apparently raped and impregnated in a Laos prison after being arrested and accused of smuggling heroin.

Samantha Orobator was detained by police on August 5, 2008 at Wattay airport after authorities allegedly found 1.5lb. of heroin in her suitcase when she was leaving the country. She was taken to the notoriously squalid Phonthong prison, known for its terrible living conditions and torturous prison guards.

Orobator became pregnant four months after her incarceration. Lao officials deny she was raped and suggested she was pregnant before she was arrested, something human rights groups say is impossible.

At first, Lao officials said that Orobator would likely face a firing squad, but backed down when the western media began reporting her pregnancy and claims she had miscarried once already.

Orobator was finally permitted to meet with a British lawyer last week, but was not able to discuss details of her imprisonment and personal health due to the presence of ten Lao government officials.

“In the circumstances, I was not prepared to ask her the questions I had envisaged,” said barrister Anna Morris, from the legal charity Reprieve. “To do so in the presence of members of the Lao government would have been a breach of my professional duty to Samantha.”

The meeting was held at Lao governemnt offices intead of the prison, so members of the charity were unable to assess Orobator’s living conditions. Morris said the girl was visibly pregnant.

Her trial is expected to start as early as next week, but there are still many questions and conflicting reports regarding her case.

The Daily Telegraph reported that Orobator “has been told she must testify she was not raped in prison in order to escape the firing squad”:

If Orobator co-operates, she will be transferred from Laos to a UK prison under a new treaty signed between the two countries on Thursday. If not, her trial will be postponed and she will return to jail in Laos.

If she faces trial again after the birth of her child, she will not have the immunity from execution that pregnancy gives her under the Laos penal code.

A Laotian Government spokesman, Kenthong Nuanthasing, said: “She will tell the court, otherwise she will stay here. Nobody can guarantee that she will not face the firing squad.”

Laotian leaders are sensitive to suggestions Orobator might have been raped in jail.

“We don’t want the world to blame us,” Mr Nuanthasing said.

Asked who fathered the baby, Mr Nuanthasing said: “It is a mystery – maybe it is a baby from the sky.”

Phanthong prison is known to human rights groups and former inmates as a horrifying place where suffering, malnutrition, and torture are routine.

Kay Danes, an Australian who survived ten months in the co-ed prison with her husband, on the same cell block that Ms Orobator is being held, told the The Times the prison is a “‘terrible, terrifying’ place where inmates survived on meagre, often deeply unhygienic rations of pig fat soup or occasionally a paste made from catfish that had perished from disease in one of the foetid prison ponds.”

Danes said she and her husband “endured mock executions, waterboarding and torture” while imprisoned.

“I watched my husband sit on a concrete floor with his legs in wooden blocks and they beat him with a steel tie brace,” she told Sky News, who published photos from inside the facility.

Orobator’s mother told CNN that her daughter “is not the type of person who would be involved in drugs.”

“My life is crumbling just right before me”, she said. “I am in hell. I am living, but I don’t know if I’m living or existing anymore. It has been a nightmare. This is a bad dream.”

The Guardian reports the prosecution has now completed its case and Orobator will be given 48 hours notice of her trial, which is expected to take less than a day.



  1. Anonymous on

    Ahhh this is the 21st century. Hundreds of women travel these countries ALONE. I have done it and met people males and females from all over the world doing the same. we traveled as tourist, curious about the world we live. There is NOTHING unusual about this woman traveling alone.

  2. Anonymous on

    The law is there for people to abide by; not to break! Laws are what keeps the people and country in order w/out it it’s chaos! Atleast, one country follows through with it’s law. You cannot enter someone else’s territory and take advantage of them! Because you think that they’re a poor and uneducated country. If you’ve never been there or met someone from Laos then you have no right to judge the country or it’s people. I’m getting tired of bimbo’s making a good country look bad. Get Educated before you make a dumb comment! She went into Laos for one purpose and that was for drugs and nothing else. Yes, it’s known for growing opium, but does that mean it’s legal to use and smuggel? Do you think everyone in Laos agrees with the fact the there’s opium growers around?? No! that’s why there’s strict drug Laws in Laos or any country. It doesn’t matter if the law says execution by gun shot or by hanging( It’s the Law)because it’s there so, people won’t abuse drugs or use it!
    Do, I feel bad for that lady? No, I don’t! She’s not in diapers; she knew what she was getting herself into. Therefore, she deserved the consequences that is coming her way. And where does it say she was raped?? Is this story seriously bogus?!! She never admitted rape or torture!! Stop making up stories to make this country look bad! The asian men there are probably more afraid of her than she is of them; look at her. The only person you should feel sorry for is her baby who’s born with an irresponsible mother who’s in prison and a father she’ll never know. I guess, only stoners believe this article. Get educated before you write ignorant comments about this country or any other country.

  3. Anonymous on

    I think the laws in these countries are horrible, but the laws are the laws. I feel really bad for her, but seriously, what was she doing there by herself? You just don’t go to Laos on vacation. I’m sure she was involved somehow. It doesn’t mean that I don’t feel for her or it makes it right for them to treat her that way. It’s like knowing the laws and consequences and still breaking them and then trying to get people to get you out of the bad situation. Another example are the reporters that traveled to North Korea. They knew they were not supposed to be there and they knew what the consequences would be if they got caught, but they were willing to take the risk. Unfortunately, they got caught and they want the U.S. to bail them out. Adults should have more sense.

  4. Jeanette on

    Here’s a thought – don’t go to Laos. Or Thailand, or Cambodia, or any of the other countries that traffic children for sex and throw foreigners in jail for life without due process. If they stop getting tourist dollars they may have to clean up their act. These countries disgust me with their blatant disregard for laws and human rights.

    Just curious, what was Ms. Orobator’s business in Laos? There are plenty of tropical spots one can visit, why Laos? A tiny, landlocked country, most of which lacks inadequate infrastructure….not particularly easy to get to either. Makes me wonder why she was there. Has Ms. Orobator admitted to the smuggling charge? I really don’t know much about this story. If she is indeed involved in the drug trade, then I don’t care if she stays locked up for life.

  5. Tom Marlatt on

    Sounds like the situation with Australian Schappelle Corby in Indonesia. A kangaroo-court sentenced her to 20-years, which she is currently serving, in a hellish gulag for the alleged importation of 10-pounds of cannabis which she claims she wasn’t aware of, and evidence suggests could be the case. It’s simply atrocious that these incidences continue to occur – these backward countries need to step out of the dark-ages and into the 21st Century.

  6. Snowdog on

    I can’t even imagine the torture this woman must be enduring. This is yet another glaring example of the Draconian drug ‘laws’ which exist in nearly all countries. This is a crime against humanity and the government of Laos is an obvious example of a cold and callous, possibly criminal, organization with no honor whatsoever.

  7. Anonymous on

    I feel horrible sadness for this women, but more so for the countless before her who’s stories will not be heard.