Bomb joke: Administrative or criminal case?
Updated : 07/28/2012 10:34 GMT + 7
Lawyer Tran Ngoc Hai analysed the sentence of 15 months probation that the woman named Tuyen, who joked about a bomb on a plane got from the Hanoi People’s Court on July 23rd.
He said “by joking about a bomb on a plane, this passenger first violated the administrative regulation which is specifically defined in clause 6, article 12 of Decree No. 60/2010/ ND-CP, dated June 03, 2010 of the Government providing for ‘sanction of administrative violations in the domain of commercial aviation’.”
Moreover, this behavior in reality caused not only a disruption in airway traffic, but also caused damage to property of Vietnam Airlines. Therefore, it constitutes the penal offence defined in clause 1, point e for “obstructing airway traffic” in the Penal Code of Vietnam. For this offence, though the obstruction is caused unintentionally but damage occurs anyway, the guilty person has to bear penal liability.
At present there is no specific regulation about “causing serious damage to property” of this offence. However, from comparing with other regulations on damage to property of other penal offences, such as “Breaching regulations on operating road vehicles” defined in article 202 of the Penal Code, we can draw a conclusion that the losses Vietnam Airlines suffered, which are estimated to be over VND100 million(US$4,800), is a serious damage to property. The Hanoi People’s Court charged Tuyen with “disrupting air way traffic”, somehow, this charge is not in accordance with the rules of the law in force.
Concurrently, according to clauses 6 and 7 in article 12 of Decree 60/2010/ ND-CP, the behavior of Tuyen could be fined up to VND30 million ($1,440).
Nevertheless, in Decree No. 60/2010/ ND-CP, this behavior is specified clearly as “starting a rumor or providing false information about bombs”. Based on these regulations prescribed in this decree, the authorities can impose sanctions of administrative violations on Tuyen, and Vietnam Airlines can take legal proceedings against her to compensate for their damage.
Thus, in order to determine whether this is a criminal cause or simply an administrative violation the state management agencies, as well as the procedural agencies, need to assess the seriousness of this incident at its true worth. Besides, an enhancement in legal deterrence is integral. Still, it depends on how the situation was handled by the aviation security, the port authorities and the airline.
A decision of the Transport Ministry stipulates the necessary co-ordination of aviation security and port authorities in which a search on a plane is conducted to detect bombs. Furthermore, this decision also points out that providing false information that threatens the safety of passengers and flight crew is considered to be an “illegal interference in the operation of commercial aviation.”
Hence, the accuracy of the information provided by the passenger should be verfied, and only information which threatened the safety of the aircraft is considered to be an “illegall interference to the operation of commercial aviation”. A thorough search of the plane can not be conducted due to some joke about a bomb. In addition, the solution that the aviation agencies chooses to handle the situation can produce a particular outcome of different types of liabilities which the passenger must bear.
Consequently, for each situation in reality, if the information provided by the passenger is a joke, the sanction of administrative violations should be applied. Whereas if the incident turns out to be serious and complicated or there is confusion in handling the situation which leads to the flight being postponed for a search to detect bombs, the damage to property is serious and the passenger must bear penal liability.