According to the BBC, 35,000 British citizens visit Laos every year. 20 year old, Nigerian-born British citizen Samantha Orobator was one of them.
Last August, Orobator arrived in Laos, presumably on holiday. But her luggage allegedly contained some serious contraband– 1.5 pounds of heroin–and Orobator was arrested before she could ever get out of the airport to see the country.
In Laos, possession of drugs in any quantity over a pound is grounds for a compulsory death sentence. However, due to an extenuating circumstance, Orobator was not summarily executed by firing squad; instead, she has been languishing in a provincial jail while awaiting trial.
In the meantime, the media have been puzzled by contradictory information about Orobator’s case. Orobator does not deny that she was carrying drugs, but says she did so under duress. Yet no details have been made available to publicly confirm or deny the claim. And her mother, who was interviewed extensively by CNN in a 90 minute broadcast, said she had no idea her daughter was even planning to visit Laos; when they’d last spoken, Orobator was in Holland after having visited Thailand.
Then, there’s another troubling issue– that “extenuating circumstance”: Orobator is five months pregnant. While she has denied being raped in prison and has indicated the pregnancy is the result of consensual sex, activist organizations advocating on her behalf have claimed otherwise, further complicating a case that seems to grow more bizarre by the day.
Orobator’s case is scheduled to be tried before a Lao court this week.
Carrying, trafficking, or doing drugs while you’re traveling is never a smart choice. Check out 5 Ways Travelers Can Avoid Being Caught With Drugs or Tripping Out on the Road: Drugs, Alcohol, and Travel to learn more about this issue.