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Draft law awards damages to victims of official injustice

Update: June, 19/2008 - 00:00

Draft law awards damages to victims of official injustice

(20-06-2008)

HA NOI — The Ministry of Justice is drafting a law that will entitle victims of wrongful convictions or unfair treatment by state officials to Government compensation.

On Tuesday, victims of official injustice were invited to share their views on the new law with the Justice Ministry and the Viet Nam Chamber of Commerce and Industry.

The ministry said 170 victims of official negligence or corruption had received more than VND16 billion (US$100,000) in damages, over the last ten year, while nearly 200 victims of criminal injustice had received nearly VND15 billion.

Head of the ministry’s Civil Law Department , Duong Dang Hue, said it would be the first time the State was made responsible for compensating victims of official misdeeds. However, a number of those at the meeting said more needed to be done to simplify compensation procedures.

Hue added that the law would help prevent official corruption and negligence, but said State authorities had to take responsibility for the misconduct of their staff.

Wrongly convicted

As the law stands, victims of miscarriages of justice, such as Luong Ngoc Phi, have found it difficult to get legal redress for wrongful convictions. Phi, the former boss of Thanh Phong Trading Company, served 35 months in prison (beginning in 1998) for alleged tax evasion and misappropriation of assets.

On appeal he was found innocent of the charges. The court ruled that the police authority should compensate Phi for his losses, but the police force claims it is powerless to act because the law is unclear.

Phi, along with other victims of miscarriages of justice, say the law needs to address the complicated issue of just who is responsible for paying compensation and the size of the award. Phi, for example, not only lost his liberty, but his company was closed and his reputation tarnished.

Hoang Minh Tien, the managing director of Dong Tien Import-Exports in Ha Noi, was also wrongly charged in 1992. Tien is now embroiled in trying to recover his assets.

The draft law also addresses the issue of compensation for loss of reputation. Furthermore, victims will also receive the equivalent of three days’ pay for each day they spent in jail.

The finalised draft law will be submitted to the National Assembly on October 2009 for consideration. — VNS

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