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Vietnam lawmakers blast resolution with target on suicide in police custody

Saturday, April 11, 2015, 14:30 GMT+7
Vietnam lawmakers blast resolution with target on suicide in police custody
Inmates are seen at a prison in Ho Chi Minh City.

A draft resolution preventing and fighting wrongful convictions of the Vietnamese lawmaking National Assembly has met with objections from local lawmakers as it includes a target to reduce the number of suicide in police custody cases, among other controversial norms.

The draft instrument, aimed to strengthen measures to prevent wrongfully convicting innocent people and ensure compensation for people who are victims of wrongful convictions, was open for discussion at a meeting of the National Assembly’s Standing Committee on Friday.

Among the targets proposed in the document is to “reduce the number of deaths due to suicide while in temporary detention by at least 10 percent” and to “ensure no cases of detainees being beaten to death at detention facilities.”

Phan Trung Ly, chairman of the National Assembly Law Committee, said he strongly disagreed with the 10-percent target.

Regarding the target of “increasing the number of cases subject to criminal prosecution by at least 10 percent to prevent omission of offenders,” Ly said such a percentage is groundless.

“Why do we have to set such a target?” he questioned.

“It is unacceptable to target a 10 percent rise in the number of such cases, because the fewer [cases we have] the better [the society becomes].”

Ly underlined that percentage targets should not be used in the resolution.

“Human life is very important, no matter how much the percentage is.”

Nguyen Van Hien, chairman of the National Assembly’s Committee for Justice, said he is even “surprised to see” those percentage targets in the resolution.

“National Assembly deputy chairman Uong Chu Luu was the last person to review the resolution, so he could have added those percentages into it,” Hien said, adding he has no idea on which ground the percentages are calculated.

Hien, who is also the head of the supervisory board of the Standing Committee, asserted that the committee has been “very careful about using such percentages.”

“The last version of the resolution endorsed by me contained no targets in percentage,” Hien told the meeting.

Speaking at the meeting, NA chairman Nguyen Sinh Hung said he was very upset to know that 260 people died in police custody during the last three years.

“Police must fully be responsible for such deaths, no matter whether they have been caused by suicide, corporal torture, or extortion of depositions,” he said.

“Relevant police officers must be punished in accordance with applicable laws, depending on levels of involvement.”

The resolution should not include such targets, the chairman said.

“Whether we set a reduction of 10 percent, or 5 percent or 1 percent, this means there will still be deaths in detention,” he said.

“No deaths in detention are acceptable.”

The draft resolution is scheduled to be approved by the National Assembly in its ninth sitting slated for June this year.

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