(VNS) The deputy director of the Ministry of Justice's Department of Judicial Administration, Dr Tran That, spoke to Tuoi Tre (Youth) newspaper about plans for a unified national records system for individuals.
What's the objective of the planned changes?
The primary objective would be to provide a basic legal foundation for protecting the rights and interests of all Vietnamese citizens with a simple and unified civil status registration book which would contain all important information about that person.
The second objective is for State administrative purposes. Currently, each citizen has a number of different types of identification papers issued by different authorities. It is difficult for other agencies to retrieve information from one another when they need it. Each family has a household registration book, for instance. The book contains key information on people registered in the household, including births, deaths, declarations of deaths, adoptions or termination of adoptions, marriages, divorces and other life events. However, its key function has been to serve police management. In 1987, the National Assembly decided that local public security officials only manage the household registration books and citizen ID cards, while other personal information relating to births, marriage registrations, death certificates and others is managed by departments of justice.
A question many people have asked is if, when all the information about each person is integrated into a centralised database, will current papers such as household registration books, ID cards, and birth and marriage certificates be scrapped?
At present, an individual's data is kept by relevant public agencies. To remedy this, we should integrate it into a single book called the register of civil status. The book would record all information related to an individual. The book is not something new as it was already introduced during the French colonial period. (At that time there were two books: one recorded a person's life from the moment of birth and major events in their life while the other was about marriage).
For the new civil status registration book, its contents would be similar to those contained in existing papers. The objective would be for the individual to present the book to authorised agencies when they have to complete required procedures or paperwork without having to return to their native provinces to apply for a certified copy of the original document.
What would the procedures be for the issuance of this personal civil status book?
The draft law says that all personal legal documents that have been issued by authorised agencies will remain valid when the new law takes effect. However those who are born after the effective date of the legislation would be given the new document. Some have said that the transition could take 70-80 years before it takes full effect.
During the drafting of the law, several options were raised, including whether civil status books would be issued for children under six years of age or under 14 years of age. However, through the discussions, the Government decided to go for the easiest way, i.e. not to issue the book to people born before the law takes effect. With this option, the government hopes that it will not cause trouble to people, requiring them to change their existing papers.
The new system would also give everyone a national ID number. How will this be implemented?
The first legal document issued to every citizen is their birth certificate, then their household registration, their ID card, a passport, plus personal income tax numbers, social insurance cards, driver's licence and others. There is no universal ID number used on all of these documents at present.
So, if a national ID number is issued, it would become the master code for all offices and agencies to use.
In developed nations, each citizen can be included on a database. However, in our condition, information technology systems are not widely developed, so we will issue a small and compact card which would bear most of the most important personal information on the card.
Is this workable?
It will be difficult to issue the card to all 87 million Vietnamese. The project will have to be divided into various stages.
In the first phase, we should issue a national ID number to holders of social and health insurance cards, personal income tax codes and urban residents. — VNS