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Promoting the role of lawyers in criminal proceedings

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IMG 0020-revisedThe Conference on the Role of Lawyers was attended by a wide cross section of stakeholders, including lawyers, judges, procurators, and law students.Ha Noi, 25 June 2015 – A conference on “promoting the role of lawyers in criminal proceedings in Viet Nam” was organized successfully at the Ha Noi Law University with the support of UNDP.  Representatives from the university, the Supreme People’s Procuracy, the Institute of Judicial Science, judges, lawyers attended the conference, as well as international experts from the United States, Japan and France. In Viet Nam, the role of lawyers in criminal proceedings is overly regulated, and their ability to participate in criminal litigation  is very low. This viewpoint was echoed many representatives at the workshop who discussed ways to remove the restrictions in law and practice.

“Viet Nam is in the process of making significant changes to its criminal procedure code and the penal code and is developing an action plan for implementing the Universal Periodic Review of Human Rights. So it is a timely discussion for the country” said Mr. Scott Ciment, UNDP Policy Advisor for Rule of Law. He also expressed that “The ability of a lawyer to present evidence and legal arguments independent of the prosecutor is the foundation of a fair trial. Lawyers need rules that apply equally to both sides and the ability to have a private conversation with their clients”.

According to Mr. Nguyen Van Quang, Head of International Cooperation Department, Ha Noi Law University, it was a very open and frank forum for the lawyers as well as the law experts.

IMG 0025-resizeMs. Nguyen Thi Thuy, a member of the drafting committee of the Supreme People’s Procuracy for the Criminal Procedure Code, endorses the need for greater protection of defense lawyers’ rights in the law.Attending the conference, Ph.D. Nguyen Thi Thuy, Deputy Director of the Legal and Scientific Management Department, The Supreme People’s Procuracy said that “My department is responsible for developing the criminal proceedings so it is a valuable and important conference. Because it helps us listen to more ideas from the experts who can access the draft amendment that we are submitting to the National Assembly. Based on these comments, we can evaluate if the amendments meet demands or not. I am very happy that most of the revisions were agreed and I receive more detail additions to ensure the lawyers’ rights as well as highlighting their responsibilities.”

“This conference today is organized at very exciting time in Viet Nam when we are struggling with this issue and its objective is very useful” said by Ms. Brenda Thornton, Interim Legal Advisor, United States Embassy.

At the end of the conference, a roundtable discussion was conducted with presentations from Japan, France and United States’ experts on the role of the lawyers in criminal justice proceedings in their countries. All the comments and papers, together with specific recommendations collected at the conference, will be sent to the National Assembly for their considerations on amending the law.

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