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NA addresses redress for wrongful convictions

Update: January, 10/2017 - 09:00
The State’s responsibility for compensating those who’ve been wrongfully convicted was the hot topic as the 14th National Assembly Standing Committee opened its sixth session yesterday. — VNA/VNS Photo Trọng Đức

HÀ NỘI — The State’s responsibility for compensating those who’ve been wrongfully convicted was the hot topic as the 14th National Assembly Standing Committee opened its sixth session yesterday.

Regulations on the administration of military tribunals, disciplinary action against retired officials and capital allocation for major projects are other topics that will be discussed during the three-day session.

NA deputies will give their opinions on eight laws; the amended Law on State Compensation, the amended Law on Legal Support, Law on Foreign Trade Management, Law on supporting SMEs, Law on Planning, the amended Law on Management and Use of State Property, Law on Management and Use of Weapons and Explosives, and Law on Guard Force.

The NA Standing Committee will also comment on the list of mid-term public investment projects identified for implementation in the 2016-2020 five-year period, as well as specific capital allocations thereof.

The deputies will also discuss procedures relating to the parliament’s supervisory functions, the National Assembly Standing Committee and National Assembly delegations; and regulations on co-ordination between the Supreme People’s Court and the Minister of National Defence in the administration of military tribunals.

Commenting on the amended Law on State Compensation at yesterday morning’s session, Lê Hữu Thể, deputy head of the Supreme People’s Procuracy, said the most difficult task was calculating the amount of compensation, because current regulations do not mention it specifically. The lack of criteria to set compensation levels meant that most cases dragged on for a long time, he added.

Nguyễn Hòa Bình, Chief Justice of the Supreme People’s Court, said compensation for wrongful conviction in the case of Nguyễn Thanh Chấn had become a precedent for subsequent compensation agreements. Those who were wrongfully convicted typically used this case as a basis for calculating their damage claims, which led to “quite high compensation levels.”

However, if criteria set by the Ministry of Finance was applied, those wrongfully convicted would get very limited compensation, he said, citing Huỳnh Văn Nén’s case as an example.

Many NA deputies agreed that the damage caused needs to be quantified as a basis for calculating compensation levels. They also agreed that the agency responsible for the final decision leading to wrongful conviction must also be responsible for apologising and paying compensation on behalf of the State.

Thể stressed the need to distinguish between compensation and reimbursement. In principle, the State must pay compensation to those who have suffered injustice. Later, reimbursement of the compensation amount can be calculated, with staff responsible for the wrongful conviction asked to pay it, get transferred or have their wages reduced.

National Assembly Vice Chairman Uông Chu Lưu said most NA deputies agreed that the agency that took the decision leading to a wrongful conviction must take the responsibility for compensation and apologise for its error, but agencies conducting the proceedings should also take responsibility.

Most deputies disagreed with the idea of setting up an independent compensation fund, saying State agencies must utilize the State budget for this purpose.

During the session, NA deputies also discussed the Law on Legal Support. They noted that there were 73 highly experienced individuals providing legal aid without receiving any formal training in law. Most of these were leaders of centres providing legal aid, assigned the task by agencies other than the justice sector.

To standardise the criteria, the NA Standing Committee proposed that such people should be required to acquire formal lawyer certification within three years of the amended law taking effect.

Regarding the draft amended law on legal aid, most of the participants agreed on the revisions.

National Assembly Vice Chairman Uông Chu Lưu recommended that relevant authorities and agencies continue to deal with current shortcomings, and report their analysis and proposals to the NA Standing Committee before submitting them to the National Assembly. – VNS

 

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