Many Vietnamese legislators have voiced discontent at the point of view that capital punishment should be canceled for drug and corruption convictions, and requested that the death penalty be maintained for both crimes.
The disagreements were voiced on Tuesday when lawmakers further discussed the amendments to the current Penal Code in groups, about a week after Minister of Justice Ha Hung Cuong introduced them to the law-making National Assembly (NA) plenary meeting on May 20, the first day of its ninth session. At that plenary meeting, deputies agreed to an amendment that the death penalty should be dropped for seven crimes, which do not include corruption and drug charges. At yesterday’s meeting, the issue of whether capital punishment should be dropped for these two counts was debated among parlimentarians. Among the many deputies who want the death penalty to be maintained as the highest punishment for those convicted of corruption is Major General Nguyen Xuan Ty, deputy director of the Vietnam National Defense Academy, an NA deputy from the southern province of Ben Tre. “Corrupt officials are usually those who have high power and positions. They often squeeze the state funds and repress the public. Therefore, if we do not apply the highest penalty to convicted corrupt officials, this will not be in accordance with the people’s aspirations,” Major General Ty said. There are people who have hundreds, even thousands, of billions of dong in hand, only after a few years of serving as government officials, Major General Ty told the meeting. (VND1 billion = US$46,100).
“From where else could that much money come if not from corrupt acts?” the official wondered.
“There are officials who get rich very fast,” Major General Ty said, adding that these officials tread on the people’s neck, acting more terribly than landlords and capitalists in the old days.
“We are determined to fight corruption but the situation has yet to improve much. I propose that capital punishment be kept for corruption charges,” he said.
When discussing whether the death penalty should be maintained for drug charges, Police Major General Bui Mau Quan said, “It is not advisable to abolish the death penalty for drug-related crimes, as they are among the types of very dangerous counts.” Sharing Major General Quan’s view, Major General Ty said that the drug trafficking situation has become complicated and dangerous. Drug traffickers often gather in groups or rings to operate and are ready to decisively resist law enforcement officers who detect their illegal activities, Major General Ty said. “I propose that capital punishment be maintained as the highest penalty for people convicted of drug trafficking,” he said. “The drug trafficking situation has not eased despite our great efforts. So what will it be like if we give drug traffickers lighter penalties?” he added. In a seminar on March 24, Dr. Nguyen Tat Vien, a standing member of the Central Steering Committee for Justice Reform, said, “There are many opinions saying that the death penalty should be abolished for corruption or embezzlement convictions, but I think that such an abolition should not be approved given the current situation.”
“Bribery and embezzlement are causing anger and displeasure in our society, undermining the prestige and efficiency of the state apparatus and threatening the survival of our regime. If we do not severely crack down on such wrongdoings, people will lose their trust in the ongoing fight against corruption,” Dr. Vien said. On May 20, the first working day of the ninth session of the 13th NA, most deputies agreed to an amendment that the death penalty should be waived for seven crimes. These crimes include plundering property, destroying important national security works and/or facilities; disobeying orders in the military; surrendering to the enemy, which is applicable in the army; undermining peace, provoking aggressive wars; crimes against mankind; and war crimes.