Toward Communist party’s 13th Congress: Vietnam needs to spend the next 5 years on judicial reform?

The Central Committee of the Communist Party of Vietnam (CPV) has just finished its 12th plenum to discuss personnel issues for the next election, many issues surrounding the criteria for personnel selection are set.

I think those who recognize the need to vigorously reform the judiciary to build and develop the country are the right people and the right direction for the next term,” lawyer Ngo Ngoc Trai raised this issue in the article on BBC News Vietnamese.

Hình ảnh này chưa có thuộc tính alt; tên tệp của nó là 2020-05-18_143628.jpg
All 17 judge raised their hands to give an absolute approval for the death sentence of Ho Duy Hai

Some issues raised for the current judicial reform are as follows.

To deploy the transfer of detention camps to the Ministry of Justice for management, including prisons and detention camps, detention houses for accused defendants in the process of investigation in criminal justice.

This is a plan set out in 2005 by the then Politburo’s Resolution No. 49 on the vision of judicial reform to 2020. So far it is the last year of the deadline but the plan has not been done yet.

Perhaps this is a matter of great influence on state power, due to the mastery of political power, there was a reluctance to reform this issue.

But the existence of a lack of this judicial science has caused many consequences to erode people’s faith in state credibility.

To date it would require a great deal of political determination, perhaps of a collective of many.

So those who are determined to implement this policy will be worthy of the right personnel for the next term.

A good point in this regard is that it has been studied for a long time, and now it has to be implemented.

The judicial reform also needs to revise the law to ensure that only the Court has the authority to make arrest warrants, search and seizure of objects,” attorney Trai continued.

Hình ảnh này chưa có thuộc tính alt; tên tệp của nó là 2020-05-18_143642.jpg
Lawyer Ngo Ngoc Trai is currently Director of the Public Works Law Firm, and member of the Hanoi Bar Association

At that time, if the investigating agency or the prosecutor wants to arrest it, they need a court order to do it.

In addition, it is necessary to deploy the full installation of audio and video recording equipment during interrogation

Strengthening the role for defense lawyers, participating in criminal cases from the beginning. Cases of injustice like Han Duc Long are due to the absence of lawyers involved from the beginning, and the case of Ho Duy Hai may be too. Their lawyers appreared very later.

Strictly complying with the provisions on the right to present the defendant’s testimonies, in other countries it is the right to be silent.

Create a mechanism for the meeting in which defense lawyer to explain clearly to the accused about his/her right to present his/her testimony to know how to do this, since it is a right, therefore, is not mandatory to report and has the right to refuse to answer question.

Someone would say such proposals lawyers can only think for themselves, if done, it will make it difficult for the investigation, need to know how to think otherwise, how will they work?

Please say that all these matters are the value of the civilized law that protects people.

The laws of other countries have already been implemented, even as China is a centralized state, they also transferred the prison to the Ministry of Justice like most countries.

Hình ảnh này chưa có thuộc tính alt; tên tệp của nó là 2020-05-18_143920.jpg
Prisoners working in prison camps

The countries that they regulate like that, do they cause troubles for the investigation agency? No, in fact, all of the above will only require the investigating agency to change its criminal practice, to improve and abandon backward.

For a long time the investigation has always considered taking the interrogation as an important stage of investigation, focusing almost every activity on it, focusing all the time and personnel on taking the questioning to record the testimony, but that’s the way of backward.

In fact, the investigation must focus on the scene, looking for witnesses and evidence, raising the knowledge of human character, about criminology, to contemplate the perpetrator’s behavior, guessing the motives of the item, purpose of the crime, thereby determining the direction of the investigation and shaping the perpetrator.

For example, evidence in Ho Duy Hai case: Collecting and preserving items that could be criminal means such as knives, cutting boards, and chairs. Then through modern scientific equipment and tests, from which give objective material evidence to identify the culprit.

Hình ảnh này chưa có thuộc tính alt; tên tệp của nó là 2020-05-13_113154.jpg
Photo at the scene of the Cau Voi Post Office was published with a bloody chopping board next to the victim’s body, such important evidence that the Police lost it and replaced it with a cutting board buy in the market

It should also be known that the case of difficult to identify the culprit as Ho Duy Hai case is not much in the total number of annual criminal cases.

Most of the cases of social order crimes, fighting or economic crimes are immediately identified and the evidence is relatively easy to collect, the rest in those cases is synthesizing documents and evidence applied to the crime constituents to conclude.

So issues such as the right to silence, the role of a defense lawyer, and audio and video recording during interrogation, are not obstacles for investigation. They are not natural but are included in the law.

It was because it was right, civilized, human rights. And now the law has, what needs to be done is to overcome the inertia, backwardness, abuse of power, laziness and refrain from trying to make it right.

Building a progressive and fair justice will benefit all parties, including all who have different points of view.

The insecurity that has long existed because of a lack of judicial protection, the guilty ones are frightened while the non-violators cannot be assured.

A progressive and fair justice will help the offender to only be subject to the penalty corresponding to the level of his fault, instead of being heavier. And non-violators can also be assured because the judiciary is able to recognize it, instead of causing injustice.

Looking to the Korean side, their judiciary dealt with the President, who was the incumbent President upon arrest, showing just how big their judicial power was. There have been no major disruptions, all including some papers, some laws, some arrests, some interrogations and hearings.

If things come here, someone will ask, so what to do?

Many people have long demanded an independent judiciary, but if they raised such a problem because the ruling party dont want to give up its right to the judiciary.

I think that it is not necessary to require independent judiciary, but it is required to implement some technical measures to increase the relative independence of the judges, thereby creating an impartiality in their works.

That is, when many rights have been given to the Court such as the right to decide on the detention, then to ensure that the court’s decision is impartial, a number of technical measures may be taken as follows:

The first is a raise for the Judge.

The Court branch has a very special great right to the right to sentence to imprisonment, death penalty, deprivation of economic property rights of several billion dongs. Which for human beings is more valuable than life and freedom?

Because the judge’s right is so valuable, their salary cannot be equal to other administrative ranks, it must be 4.5 times higher than the present one.

Hình ảnh này chưa có thuộc tính alt; tên tệp của nó là 2020-05-18_143952.jpg
Mr. Nguyen Hoa Binh has held all three positions of prosecution, investigation and now is the trial during the 13-year process of resolving Ho Duy Hai’s injustice.

Also keep in mind that the number of judges and court staff is not high. The total number of court staff is currently only about 17,000, the number is too small compared to other branches.

A few months ago a leader of the Thanh Hoa provincial court shared with me that the staff of the judicial branch nationwide was only about 17,000, but the payroll of the educational branch of Thanh Hoa province alone was about 11,000 (so how big is the province?)

The payroll of the court sector in Thanh Hoa province is more than 400, but the police payroll of Thanh Hoa city alone is nearly 1,000 (so how big is the payroll of the whole province).

Therefore, the number of staff is not large, which is a favorable point that can solve the increase of the salary for the judge.

The second is to increase the length of the term of the judge to 10 years instead of 5 as currently, they will not be disciplined in judicial decisions, in addition to expanding the scope of recruiting judges from lawyers.

The third is to increase the number of members of the Trial Panel, increase the number of people’s juries, the trial panel may be up to 9 as in Japan and expand the rotation of the population, to increase independence of the verdict.

The fourth is the establishment of a regional court, which previously had the court’s branch to reduce the dominant influence of district authorities on district courts, but this scheme was not implemented. It should now review implementation.

These issues must inevitably have to be done so that we can hope to have a progressive justice that is the foundation for development. (Translated)