- Published: July 29, 2019
Legal Policy Starting Point
The political framework remained largely unchanged in 2018 as well – Vietnam is still under stable single-party rule, in which the Communist Party exercises its claim to leadership over the state and civil society. The Constitution introduced in 2014 further solidifies this political situation. In contrast, Vietnam has vowed to establish a market economy based on “socialist values“ and has recorded economic growth for years. The country is among the most vibrant national economies in South-East Asia and is now a “middle income“ state. At the same time, the population is growing and becoming increasingly young; the health sector has improved significantly, and there has been considerable progress in the education sector as well. Modernisation of state structures, the legal system and the judiciary are also continuing. Legislative activity is moving forward briskly, and there are numerous projects to implement international commitments. A large number of measures to strengthen institutional capacities are being implemented as well.
The IRZ has been active in Vietnam since 2010, implementing projects within the framework of the German-Vietnamese Dialogue on the Rule of Law, which was established in 2008 by the Federal Ministry of Justice and Consumer Protection in cooperation with the Vietnamese Ministry of Justice. This has resulted in a broad range of cooperation, among others with the Ministry of Justice, the Judicial Academy, the Supreme People‘s Court, the Supreme People‘s Procuracy of Vietnam, the Bar Association, the Human Rights Institute, the Judicial Academy and with various other institutions.
The IRZ focuses its activities on supporting the implementation of human rights guarantees, especially in the areas of criminal law procedures and new provisions under civil law. In this regard, a wide range of law practitioners have a significant training need due to the first complete amendment of the Code of Criminal Procedure in 30 years, as well as the reform of the Criminal Code. Participants from the worlds of academia and practice attended two international conferences with the Human Rights Institute, where they joined German colleagues to discuss the changes introduced to promote consistent adherence to human rights in criminal law and criminal procedure law from a variety of perspectives. In this regard, a significant focus was placed on the newly introduced provisions on the presumption of innocence, the filming of interviews and the separation of powers between courts, the Public Prosecutor‘s Office, the police and the accused. Crucial aspects for criminal defence lawyers include the laws on evidence (admissibility, presentation, assessment etc.) and the assertion of their rights in criminal procedure law. This prompted the IRZ to organise a separate workshop on these aspects.
During the reporting year, the IRZ was pleased to continue its legal counselling on the legally enshrined protection of transgender persons, which commenced in 2017. Initially earmarked for 2018, ratification of the new Transgender Law was postponed to 2020. Although there was significant progress in the latest draft legislation compared to last year – including the incorporation of proposals put forward by the IRZ – significant room for improvement remained in many other areas nevertheless. For this purpose, the IRZ organised a workshop with the Center for Consulting on Legal and Policy on Health and HIV/AIDS, as well as a variety of government and civil society representatives. This exchange of opinions made clear that despite the variety of legislative approaches, the stakeholders are, with a view to the rights of the individual and equality before the law, engaged in similar efforts to ensure legal recognition of gender identity. The attending members of the editorial team expressed the intention to again consider the proposed amendments discussed at the workshop, and it is indeed remarkable that extremely progressive draft legislation is about to be included in the legislative process in a country of Confucian traditions.
Moreover, judicial basic and further training were another important priority, leading to the organisation of two seminars for judges. The focus here was placed on the application of unwritten law throughout civil law, which prompted discussions on the distinction between codified law and its interpretation, as well as the identification of common law, its collision with written law and the detection of legal loopholes.
Events were organised in a variety of regions outside of Hanoi as a means of including participants from these regions on a regular basis.
Foci of Activity in 2018
Constitutional Law / Human Rights and their Enforcement
- Comparative law conference on constitutional law implications for criminal law and criminal procedure law in cooperation with the Vietnamese Institute for Human Rights; supported by the Foreign Office (AA) in Hanoi and Da Nang
Criminal Law and Penitentiary Law
- Workshop on the law of evidence and the rights of defence lawyers with the Vietnamese Bar in Hai Phong
- Workshop on continuing counselling for the Gender Reassignment Act (strengthening the rights of transgender persons) with the Center for Consulting on Legal and Policy on Health and HIV/AIDS in Hanoi
Basic and Further Training
- Workshop on judicial methodology in case-law (focusing on civil law) with the Supreme People‘s Court in Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City
- Technical translation of the Criminal Code and criminal procedure law from Vietnamese into German
German-Vietnamese Dialogue on the rule of law is expected to continue in 2019. The IRZ will pursue cooperation with its partners by offering a larger number of measures concerning the application of criminal law provisions in a variety of fields, e.g. juvenile criminal law. Basic and further training will remain as a significant part of its activities. In this regard, judges and lawyers are the main target group for legal counselling by the IRZ.