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Online forum reviews constitutional changes

Update: March, 01/2013 - 03:00

HA NOI (VNS)— An online forum including officials from the Ministry of Justice discussed proposed constitutional amendments yesterday.

Deputy Minister of Justice Hoang The Lien suggested the phrase stating that "power belongs to the people" should be interpreted to mean that people empower the State and that all State power originates with the people.

Lien and other forum participants agreed that the 1992 Constitution should form the basis and guiding principles for any amendments.

Under the 1992 Constitution, the people have executed the principle of direct democracy, beginning with local People's Councils, which are directly elected. However, Lien said, the right to exercise direct democracy needed to be made more effective and practical in reality.

"The amendments this time confirm that Government administrative agencies are not directly elected by the people but are elected by their representatives, either by the National Assembly or People's Councils," Lien said.

"This makes it explicit that Government agencies are subject to the people's power," he stressed.

The director of the Ministry of Justice's Department of Criminal and Administrative Law, Nguyen Kim Thoa, agreed that the proposed constitutional amendments would consolidate the concept that the people execute their rights through People's Councils and the National Assembly, who then appoint Government agencies to execute the public will.

A proposed amendment to Article 2 of the 1992 Constitution would provide that "State power is unified with clear delegation, co-ordination and control among Government agencies in the operation of legislative, executive and judicial bodies."

Thoa highly appreciated the term "control", as it demonstrated the nation's resolve to reform, to overcome existing constraints and to be in line with international law and practices.

"The term ‘control' is logical and necessary," Thoa said.

Lien added that this control could be executed either through direct democracy or through the system of Government agencies or social organisations established by the public to protect their interests.

Independent institutions like the State Audit of Viet Nam, the Constitutional Council and others would also help the public exercise its right of control and oversight.

The forum participants also agreed that human rights were fundamental and were distinct from the specific rights of citizens. Thoa urged the constitutional drafting committee to set forth clearly what human rights must be ensured and what citizen rights were acknowledged.

"Viet Nam is a signatory to many international conventions on human rights, in which many such provisions are compulsory while others are optional," Lien said.

"Why don't we separate civil and political rights from socio-economic rights since signatory countries have to abide by the former, while other rights are optional?" she questioned.

A new point in the draft amendments was a constitutional confirmation that the land use right was right of ownership.

For the majority of the Vietnamese, land is their primary asset. All of the forum participants expressed enthusiastic support for the change as one favouring the people and ensuring that property ownership going forward would be a right protected by the Constitution.

Duong Dang Hue, director of the Ministry of Justice's Department of Economic and Civil Law, and Nguyen Van Cuong, deputy director of the ministry's Institute of Judicial Science, also participated in the online forum. — VNS

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