Nguyễn Văn Hậu, Vice Chairman of the HCM City Lawyers’ Association, tells vov.vn that a draft decree laying conditions on selling voice/video recording software is unconstitutional.
From a lawyer’s perspective, what is your opinion on the draft decree compiled by the Ministry of Public Security, imposing conditions on businesses selling “undercover” software equipment for voice/video recording or location-spotting?
In a public poll on that draft decree, most of the people questioned said they didn’t support the idea. They said it ran against the spirit of the Vietnamese Constitution. They said if any business restriction was imposed, it had to be written into law, particularly if the restriction relates to a citizen’s right or the human rights. This provision runs against the Business Law.
So, do you think the draft decree runs against the Constitution and other legal documents?
Yes. I feel that the draft decree runs against the Constitution. If it is adopted, I’m afraid to say it will face many difficulties in implementation as it runs against many other laws, including the Press Law and the Lawyers’ Law. For example, in the Press Law and the Lawyers’ Law, people working in these fields are entitled to use such equipment as their working tools.
The decree is called “Conditions to run a business on disguised sound/video recording or location software.” But its content seems to include people who are not engaged in the business.
Legally speaking, before we promulgate a legal document we have to consider carefully whether that document runs against the national Constitution and other legal documents or overlaps with other available legal documents.
In my opinion, the language used in this document needs to be rewritten to bring it in line with other legal documents, particularly the Constitution, the Criminal Law or the Civil Law.
Can’t it be said that of late, the support of tape recorders or video recorders have helped expose many breaches of the law? If this draft decree is officially promulgated, will it affect the current fight against corruption and other crimes?
Yes, on both counts. The equipment has been very useful in maintaining law and order in our society, particularly our efforts to fight corruption, including embezzlement and other crimes.
The adoption of the decree would be a backward step.
Nguyễn Thiện Nhân, President of the Việt Nam Fatherland Front (VFF), recently talked about the important role voice and video recorders have played in exposing anti-social activities. He referred to the incident on the United Airlines (UA) flight (where a doctor of Vietnamese descent was manhandled by the crew and removed from the flight). Do you think the VFF will present its opinion on the draft Decree?
I agree that tape recorders and video recorders are essential tools for us in the fight against corruption or other malicious acts. In fact, they are very important tools in the fight against negative acts/phenomena in all societies. This is one of the key reasons that the draft decree faced strong public objections when it was made public.
Don’t you think the Ministry of Justice and mass organisations should also raise their voices in this case?
Mass organisations and the Ministry of Justice have played an important screening role in making sure that any legal document adopted is in line with the Constitution. As I said earlier, if this decree is adopted, it will be a backward setp that limits Vietnamese citizens’ basic rights in the fight against negative acts, including corruption.
We now live in a hi-tech world. Can you share some thoughts on how to make advanced technology serve people’s interests?
We live in a society ruled by laws. We can’t simply say “no” to what we can’t manage. We’re now in the process of reforming our administrative and judiciary procedures, so we have to try to improve our system in all ways to serve the people. -- VNS