Vietnamese police brutality intensifies

Police officers beat two teenagers on Sept 27, 2022

The incident of four police officers, including traffic police officers, beating two male students on motorbikes, creates strong anger in the online community for several days.

Cruel acts

A video clip of more than five minutes was shared “dizzy” on social networks, recording four policemen following two male students on motorbikes into a corner.

Three out of four police officers used batons and helmets to hit the heads, shoulders, and backs of two students. On the afternoon of September 30, Soc Trang Provincial Police said that the Provincial Police Department’s Directorate had a meeting and took a disciplinary decision to strip the title of People’s Police for three people including Captain Chau Minh Trung, Lieutenant Nguyen Quang Thai, and Senior Lieutenant Doan Tan Phong.

In addition to the three people mentioned above, another police officer, Captain Tran Minh Doi, was disciplined and warned because he did not act to stop his teammates from beating people.

Deputy Captain of the Traffic Police – Patrol Team The leader of the patrol team is Captain Hua Truong An because he was a leading cadre but could not manage his subordinates, so he was disciplined in the form of dismissal.

Vo Minh Duc, a former captain of the Vietnam People’s Army, said that the behavior of these police officers was extremely cruel, trampled on the law, inhumane, and blatantly violated the law.

They used batons, and then they took off their helmets so they beat them continuously, like beating to death. The image of hitting the head with a helmet, personally, I consider it to be intentional murder.”

Ms. Hong, a resident of Ho Chi Minh City, told RFA that she did not dare to watch the entire video because the people who are believed to be police officers were too cruel:

I was very nervous watching it, I was only afraid that the children would die! Because the level of brutality is too high. And I felt very indignant, they broke the baton, and took off their helmets and continued to attack.”

In the face of public anger, on the same day September 29, Lieutenant General To An Xo, Chief of the Office of the Ministry of Public Security, asked the police leaders of Soc Trang province to strictly handle violators.

Covering up

According to Colonel Lam Thanh Sol, the incident happened on September 25, the patrol team discovered two students driving motorbikes going in the opposite direction, so they signaled to stop to check, but these two “objects didn’t accept it” and speeding, dodging and running away. After chasing through many routes, the police stopped the motor of two male students. However, due to anger at the behavior of disregarding the law, they could not hold back and act violently like in the clip.

Ms. Hong (doesn’t want to give her last name), a resident, thinks that the above explanation of the Soc Trang police director is unreasonable:

If they feel that they can’t control themselves, they shouldn’t be doing this job. If you say angry, you can only hit one or two, but here, police officers beat hard and continuously. That’s not the right answer.”

A problem that Mr. Minh Duc noticed in the statement of the Soc Trang police, as well as the media reported in a way that always emphasized that these students violated traffic laws, so the police acted like that. According to Mr. Duc, this is the act of “throwing stones to find the way” to clear the crime of four police officers who broke the law:

In addition to the fact that the media has been ‘rumoring over and over these days, saying that these children are bouncing around, I also think that it is a kind of pre-emptive excuse for this group of officers.”

VnExpress newspaper network on September 29 quoted Captain Chau Minh Trung, one of four policemen who beat two male students, saying, “Two students do not have a driving license and drove a motor with over 100 cc. They drove unsafely, forcing us police officers to do the job, so we got angry.”

Criminal prosecution is required

By the evening of September 29, all four police officers had been suspended from work. However, a lawyer who did not want to be identified, from the Ho Chi Minh City Bar Association, said that based on the behavior in the video clip spread on social networks, local authorities should treat their acts as criminal ones:

In my opinion, in this case, it is necessary to charge these police officers of intentionally causing injury to those on duty to be appropriate and to show the seriousness of the law.”

Mr. Vo Minh Duc said that the public is currently very interested in this case, as well as whether the handling of the police leadership is satisfactory or not:

The public is interested in whether the punishment will be strict, or if they are handled in a tolerant and protective manner. Personally, I think this case should be stripped of police forces and prosecuted before the law.”

Article 134, Vietnam Penal Code 2015 stipulates a non-custodial reform for up to three years or a prison term of between six months and three years for acts of intentionally causing injury with an infirmity rate of between 11% and 30. %, or less than 11% but in one of the following cases: Abuse of position and power; Committing the crime against a person under the age of 16 or another defenseless person; or a hooligan in nature, etc.

Public forces disregard the law

Just type into the Google page the phrase “police beat people” and there will be a series of cases spanning more than a decade.

For example, the case of two YouTubers being beaten by traffic police in March 2021 occurred in Binh Chanh district, Ho Chi Minh City. The district police responded to the media that they would verify the case and handle it strictly, not covering it up. However, after that, no further information was found on how these officials were punished.

In December 2020, three traffic police officers in Bac Giang were transferred to another job because they beat and cursed a truck driver who refused to stop.

Vo Minh Duc told RFA that police violence against people happened a lot in the past, but each time it was the state media reporting in tolerance, bending the truth with wrong words.

It is very difficult for the people to fight for justice in such matters. The reason is that the police force in Vietnam has been blatantly declared that it is the sword and shield of the Party, so protecting the Party and The regime is that they put first, not the protection of the people and social order and security.

So in the end, there is no way to deal with the right degree, the right crime, and the right way.”

The cases of police suppression and beating of people have caused outrage in public opinion for many years, but now this situation continues, which shows the disregard for the law by law enforcement forces. Anonymous lawyer said:

If the violations of the police force cannot be recorded, it is very likely that the case will be forgotten. And Vietnamese society will never be free from similar acts in the future if the law is still disregarded by public officials as it is today.”

On the afternoon of September 30, Mr. Le Hoang Bac, Deputy Director of the Department of Information and Communications of Soc Trang province, said that the person who posted a video of three traffic and order policemen in Soc Trang brutally assaulted two teenagers (15). and 16 years old) will not be treated as usual.

He said: “Through research by the provincial Department of Information and Communications, based on Clause a, Article 32 of the 2015 Civil Law, people are spreading to protect public interests or denounce crimes, so they don’t need to ask for permission or they are not charged in this case“.

In similar cases that have happened, police agencies often issue notices to track down the person who posted the clip on social networks for punishment. (Translated)