UNODC supports Viet Nam's efforts to effectively apply international standards in combating transnational organized crime



photo1Hanoi, May 23rd 2015 – In order to support the implementation of Vietnam’s Penal Code 2015, and in particular provisions concerning transnational organized crime, UNODC, the Australian Attorney-General's Department (AGD) and the Ministry of Justice organized a workshop on May 23th and May 24th 2016, in Hanoi.

Transnational organized crime is increasing in scale and complexity, and nations across the planet are working together to target international crime networks. With 186 parties, the UN Convention on Transnational Organized Crime (UNTOC) is one of the most widely ratified treaties dealing with international criminal law. Vietnam ratified UNTOC on 8 June 2012.

The 13th Vietnam National Assembly adopted the amended Penal Code 2015 at the end of the tenth session, on November 27th 2015. The new Penal Code codifies a number of key components of UNTOC and the UN Convention against Corruption (UNCAC), and therefore better reflects international norms and facilitates international cooperation in the fight against crime. Indeed, articles relating to transnational organized crime have been comprehensively amended. Mr. Dinh Trung Tung, Vice Minister, Ministry of Justice said: “the amendments in the new Penal code reflect the reality of fighting crime in the context of international integration. The new Penal code 2015 has been designed to help Vietnam combat domestic and international crimes that result from the increase in international and regional integration, and it provides law-enforcement with a comprehensive legal base for international cooperation.” In summary, the Penal Code is evidence of Vietnam’s commitment to fighting organized crime.

According to Mr. Chris Batt, UNODC Regional Advisor on Anti-Money Laundering and the Officer-In-Charge of UNODC in Viet Nam, the focus on implementing international standards is not the only highlight of the Penal Code: “the revised Vietnam Penal Code highlights the importance of protecting human rights and severely curtails the death penalty”. The new code also emphasizes non-custodial penalties and community involvement in a shift away from retributive justice towards restorative justice. All of these changes reflect the changing attitude in Vietnam towards the criminal justice system.

The Penal Code 2015 also supports the new Sustainable Development Goals, which were adopted by the UN last year. “Sustainable Development Goal Number 16 is dedicated to promoting peaceful, just and inclusive societies. This goal underscores the importance of reduction of all forms of violence, corruption and bribery, the importance of recovery and return of stolen assets and combat against all forms of organized crime.” Mr Batt added. The workshop is one step towards implementing the new Sustainable Development Goals, because as Mr. Batt said, “the law is only as good as its implementation. UNODC and AGD are pleased to have the opportunity to work with the Vietnamese officials and practitioners on how to convert these legal improvements into quantifiable positive changes on the ground.”

To this end, more than 70 people, including judges, prosecutors, lawyers, police officers , legal advisors from Vietnamese government and experts from UNODC and AGD, came together to discuss applying the new Penal Code 2015. The participants discussed changes in the revised Penal code related to corruption, money laundering, and penalties with focus on how to apply the provisions to combat human trafficking and migrant smuggling. International experts from UNODC and the Australian Government also shared their experiences on dealing with these issues.

The same workshop was organized in Ho Chi Minh City last week, with additional participation from law enforcement agencies in the South of Vietnam.

The workshops are part of an ongoing initiative by UNODC and AGD to support revisions to and the implementation of the Penal Code in order to ensure compliance with international standards on transnational organized crime and to better protect rights of the most vulnerable groups. UNODC and the AGD have been involved throughout the reform process, and have provided ongoing feedback and suggested amendments through face-to-face meetings with respective drafting teams, dialogues, workshops and consultations with relevant stakeholders.