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Police culture must oppose brutality against people

Update: August, 12/2016 - 20:42
The public needs proper police, real protectors, not criminals. — VNA/VNS Photo Mạnh Linh
Viet Nam News


Hải Vân

The main job of the police is to prevent crime and investigate criminals. That’s the expectation worldwide that even a six year-old child can tell.

This explains the public uproar in Việt Nam when a police officer leading a gang of five beat a couple to the point where the man was covered with blood and his pregnant fiancée fainted. The incident happened only a few weeks ago, in July, in Cẩm Xuyên District of central Hà Tĩnh Province.

The couple were immediately rushed to hospital and recovered enough to identify the leader of the assault as the ex-boyfriend of the woman.

Phan Văn Hưng, a corporal in Cẩm Xuyên district police, admitted afterwards he had attacked the couple, two innocent citizens, for personal reasons.

Hưng and his companions committed the assault in daytime on a bustling street in front of many passers-by, clear evidence they had no respect of the law and were aware of their “power”!

Across the world police brutality is seen as unacceptable and is considered an abuse of power even in some force-majeure policing activities.

In Việt Nam, as defined in law, police are allowed to resort to force only when it is necessary to fight or prevent crimes that endanger the life, health or property of people and the State.

As soon as the case made headlines, people anxiously waited to see how it would be handled, especially given the fact that Hưng is the son of the deputy chairwoman of the Cẩm Xuyên District People’s Committee.

To public surprise, Hưng was fined only VNĐ3million (US$130) for “fighting in public and disturbing public order”, Cẩm Xuyên police department announced on Monday.  The violent corporal and his accomplices were not required to compensate the victims whatsoever.

Explaining the inadequate punishment, Colonel Hà Huy Hưng, head of Cẩm Xuyên police, said no additional punishment was required because the victims did not request an investigation into the assault.

Article 104 of the Việt Nam Criminal Code stipulates that those who attack people and cause harm or injuries of less than 11 per cent of their health will be investigated and prosecuted only at the request of the victim.

Legitimacy matters. But this was not the first and will not be the last time attackers get away with their crimes. Fear of repercussions will discourage more victims of violence to come forward.

Not long ago, in March, a 20 year-old woman in Hải Phòng City was attacked by her ex boyfriend, Trần Minh Trung, a second lieutenant police officer. Hospitalised with numerous stitches around her eyes, she collected all her courage to file a letter of complaint to the local police, hoping to end her ordeal. But the poor girl was then harassed with threatening phone calls and texts from her ex. She soon gave up her hopes for justice.

Police officers like Hưng and Trung are in the minority compared with thousands of officers who have a strong sense of dedication, responsibility and are ready to risk their lives for others.

However, as the Vietnamese saying goes, “one worm spoils the soup”, Hưng and Trung have tarnished much of the trust their colleagues have been working hard to build over the years. To maintain its integrity, the police sector should be decisive to get rid of its “worms”.

All law-enforcement forces, especially police, should be fully aware that they are public servants performing their duties on behalf of the Government and the State of Việt Nam and as such they must behave accordingly at all times.

The mandate of police is enshrined in the Constitution of Việt Nam and the Law on People’s Police became effective on July 1, 2015. Not to mention that Việt Nam’s police code of ethics has been in existence since 2008. These laws should be strictly enforced in a law-governed country.

The public need proper police, real protectors, not criminals. —VNS



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