Tuesday, April 7 2020


National Assembly deputies back right to remain silent

Update: June, 18/2015 - 10:05
Many deputies agreed that this was enough to make the law a sharp legal tool, increasing the responsibility of bodies to respect, defend and ensure people's rights as described in the national Constitution. — VNA/VNS Photo Phuong Hoa

HA NOI (VNS) — During yesterday's session on the revised Criminal Procedure Code, most National Assembly deputies agreed that an accused person's right to remain silent should be included in the amendments.

The revised legal document specifies that a person is not obliged to confess to a crime or submit evidence incriminating him/herself if arrested and detained in a criminal investigation.

Deputies agreed that this was enough to make the law a sharp legal tool, increasing the responsibility of bodies to respect, defend and ensure people's rights as described in the national Constitution.

Deputy Le Thi Nga said the regulation was reasonable and scientific as it stemmed from the natural right of people to defend themselves.

Nga mentioned Article 14 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights to which Viet Nam is a signatory. The article specifies the right not to be obliged to make a statement against oneself or to incriminate oneself.

"The regulation is more transparent than the current ones, encouraging those arrested and defendants to be well aware of their rights, and for officials to be well aware of their duties to prevent wrongful convictions," Nga said. "If this right is exercised, it will help minimise wrongfully-convicted cases.

"With any offence, there might be one offender, but tens of suspects. It is not likely that all suspects are guilty," said the deputy chairwoman of the NA Justice Committee.

"Hence, the law needs to ensure this as many suspects do not have adequate legal understanding or physical and spiritual stamina.

"They need time to think and need legal aid to avoid letting themselves fall into disadvantageous situations, to incriminate themselves."

Nga also urged procedure-conducting bodies to enhance their capacity to be able to prove [an offence] with objective evidences, not just a confession.

Deputy Vu Xuan Truong from Nam Dinh Province asserted that the right to freely make a statement and present opinions, and the right not to be compelled to make statements against oneself fully demonstrated personal rights.

Truong recommended that if defendants provided sincere statements and expressed remorse, these should be considered as militating factors.

"This will avoid the misunderstanding that the right to silence could be easily abused as some deputies worried during previous discussions," said Truong.

Deputy Nguyen Thai Hoc of Phu Yen Province said the regulation prevented forced interrogation, torture or acts to influence a person. The regulation also clearly defined the rights and duty of investigators, and of those asked to make statements to avoid subjectiveness and wrongful conclusions," Hoc said.

The amendments affect 294 articles of the present Criminal Procedure Code and another 172 added, while 26 articles were disposed.

With such large-scale amendments, deputy Hoc from Phu Yen Province said the law should be renamed the Criminal Procedure Code 2015 to mark the concretisation of the Constitution 2013 rather than the revised Criminal Procedure Code.

Yesterday, deputies also conferred on a new regulation which requires recording the interrogation of those arrested in words and images.

Most agreed with the regulation, maintaining that its enforcement would reduce extorted depositions and use of corporal punishments while defending investigating bodies and procedure-conducting agencies in case defendants retracted their statements.

However, many said it should make it clear how much would be spent on enforcing the regulation.

"No one is pleased if their work is under constant scrutiny, but to prevent mistakes, it is essential to enforce this regulation at any cost," said deputy Truong from Thai Binh Province.

Deputy Nguyen Thanh Thuy from Binh Dinh Province said the supplemented rule would help avoid wrongful convictions.

"The percentage of wrongful convictions is modest, however, it is significant to record the interrogation process to defend people's rights in line with the Constitution 2013."

Deputy Nguyen Trong Truong from Bac Ninh Province added that the practice would ensure effective supervision and be useful in handling complaints and appeals.

Today, NA deputies will vote on a resolution on the supervision of the NA in 2016 and debate the Law on Charges and Fees. — VNS

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