Vietnam - annual report 2019

Conference on improving the protection of children‘s rights in Hanoi: Presentation by Lukas Pieplow (at the lectern), specialist lawyer for criminal law at Esche & Partner, Cologne
Conference on improving the protection of children‘s rights in Hanoi: Presentation by Lukas Pieplow (at the lectern), specialist lawyer for criminal law at Esche & Partner, Cologne

Strategic Framework

Legal Policy Starting Point

The political framework remains shaped by the Communist Party‘s claim to sole power. At the same time, the creation of a market economy with a ‘socialist‘ character has led to years of sustained economic growth, so that Vietnam has now developed into a middle-income state and is one of the most dynamic economies in Southeast Asia. In this context, significant improvements in economic and social rights are noticeable, although they have been accompanied by severe restrictions on freedom of expression, press, assembly and association.

Meanwhile, the modernisation of state structures, as well as the reform of the legal system and the judiciary, are continuing. Legislative activity is moving forward briskly, and there are numerous projects to implement international contracts and a large number of measures to strengthen personnel and institutional capacities. In 2020, Vietnam will take over the ASEAN Chairmanship and will hold a seat on the UN Security Council. As a result, it is reasonable to expect strong national reform efforts in view of the international attention these positions will attract.

Overall Concept

The EU and Vietnam maintain strong ties, and the relationship between Vietnam and Germany is particularly close. IRZ has been active in Vietnam since 2010, implementing projects within the German-Vietnamese Rule of Law Dialogue, which was established in 2008 by the Federal Ministry of Justice and Consumer Protection in cooperation with the Vietnamese Ministry of Justice. A new three-year work programme was signed in September 2019, which places an even stronger focus on issues relating to human rights and the rule of law.

IRZ engages in broad-based cooperation with the Ministry of Justice, the Judicial Academy, the Vietnam Bar, the Supreme People‘s Court, the Supreme People‘s Procuracy, the Vietnamese Institute for Human Rights, the Hanoi Law University and various other institutions.

In geographic terms, collaboration is concentrated on the two urban centres of Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City, but events are also increasingly being planned in other provinces in order to spread the target group more widely.

Overall, basic and further legal training play a key role in the cooperation. This is because the Vietnamese (vocational) education and training system does not meet the increasing economic and social requirements in quantitative and qualitative terms, especially in the minds of the young and rapidly growing population. In particular, there is a substantial lack of practice-oriented courses, as school, vocational and university education are very theoretical. Therefore, the international exchange of experience with legal practitioners from various fields is often highly appreciated.

IRZ focuses its activities on the implementation of human rights guarantees, including the promotion of basic judicial rights in criminal procedure law. Strengthening the rights of defence lawyers under the new Code of Criminal Procedure and the protection of children‘s rights in the criminal justice system are the priorities.

IRZ‘s events are aimed in particular at the advocacy and the judiciary, as both professional groups have a great need for counselling in regard to the practical implementation of the new requirements and the performance of their respective roles in the proceedings.

Focus of Activity in 2019

Constitutional Law/Human Rights and their Enforceability

  • Two comparative law conferences in Ho Chi Minh City and Hanoi, with funding from the Federal Foreign Office and the ifa (Institute for Foreign Relations), on improved protection of children‘s rights under the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child and on the establishment of juvenile jurisdiction with the Vietnamese Institute for Human Rights
  • Conference transcript (print run: 500) of the conferences for the relevant actors and students

Criminal Law and Penitentiary Law

  • Two workshops in Hanoi and Nha Trang with the Vietnam Bar on the practical application of defence lawyers‘ rights under the new Code of Criminal Procedure and on hearing and questioning techniques
  • Study trip to Berlin for representatives of the Vietnam Bar on practical questions of criminal defence and on the subject of specialist lawyers
  • Guideline for defence lawyers on the application of the new Code of Criminal Procedure, with a priority on preparation for the main hearing, as well as hearing and questioning techniques
  • Online workshop on the principle tenets of German juvenile criminal law as part of a monthly newsletter from the Supreme People‘s Court to all courts throughout the country, available as a video download

Basic and Further Training

  • Two workshops with the Supreme People‘s Court in Da Lat and Sa Pa on judicial methodology and on customary law in jurisdiction, with a priority on civil law
  • Two workshops for lawyers on questions of legal representation for minor age offenders and victims and on the representation of victims of domestic violence with the Judicial Academy in Hanoi


In 2020, IRZ will continue its cooperation with its established partners by deepening this year‘s focus of activity on (juvenile) criminal procedure law with the aim of further strengthening basic judicial rights. Basic and further legal training will also remain an elementary part of its activities.