|Viet Nam signed the Convention in November 2013 and is now taking steps to ratify it. — Photo europaeum.org
HCM CITY (VNS) — Challenges that lie ahead for Viet Nam after the ratification of the United Nations Convention against Torture last year were discussed at an international conference held in HCM City last week.
The conference, with the theme United Nations Convention against Torture and the Implementation of State's Obligations - Experience for Viet Nam, was organised by the HCM City University of Law in collaboration with Viet Nam Lawyers Association.
Viet Nam signed the Convention in November 2013 and is now taking steps to ratify it. The conference aims to introduce the main content of the Convention and discuss issues related to the ratification and implementation of the Convention.
"Every act of torture and corporal punishment to collect evidence during investigation must be eliminated in the light of implementing the UN Convention against Torture," said Scott Ciment, legal advisor of the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) Viet Nam.
Evidence that is untrustworthy or unacceptable must be prohibited in the Viet Nam's Criminal Code.
Nguyen Ngoc Hoa, vice rector of Ha Noi Law University, said the current criminal code of Viet Nam has no specific and direct offence of torture.
However, acts of torture can be prosecuted under other offences already provided by the criminal code.
Le Thi Thuy Duong of the criminal law faculty of HCM City Law University said the current legal provisions on interrogation basically meet the requirements of prohibition of torture.
However, in order to effectively implement the process of incorporation of the Convention's requirement into domestic law, as well as for a better protection of the human rights of criminal defenders, the criminal procedure law of Viet Nam needs to strengthen provisions regarding interrogation as well as provide for necessary mechanisms to warrant its effectiveness, he said.
In particular, the state should improve provisions in Article 131 and 306 of the Criminal Procedure Code regarding interrogation; Article 58 regarding the rights of advocacy; institutionalise the right to remain silent for criminal defenders; and legalise interrogation techniques and enhance supervising mechanisms for interrogation activities and the participation of prosecutor, witnesses, and use of video-tape recording devices.
Tomas Max Martin, of the Danish Institute of Human Rights, said the UN Convention against Torture obliges the State to prevent torture.
Risks of torture and ill-treatment exist everywhere, in any country at any time, he said.
Torture prevention is a global strategy that intends to reduce risks and create an environment where torture and ill-treatment are less likely to occur.
An effective legal framework must be in place that both prohibits and prevents torture and other form of ill-treatment, he said, adding that laws and regulations need to be applied in practice.
Implementation is achieved through training of the police and other actors.
The control mechanism should be in place in order to check both whether the legal framework exists and whether it is implemented, he explained.
Regular visits to places of detention by independent bodies constitute one of these control mechanisms.
Martin also stressed the important role of education as a means to fight torture.
Peter Vedel Kessing, senior researcher at the Danish Institute of Human Rights, said Denmark had been successful in building an effective prime-model framework that included policy, regulation, implementation, monitoring and evaluation. — VNS