law awards damages to victims of official injustice
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
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.
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
The finalised draft law
will be submitted to the National Assembly on October 2009 for consideration.