People voice their demands for a responsive, efficient and accessible justice system

03 Oct 2013

image© United Nations Viet Nam\2010\Aidan Dockery

Ha Noi - Viet Nam’s first ever empirical justice index released on October 3rd, revealed that State agencies’ inefficiency in meeting basic legal requirements and addressing civil disputes and administrative complaints encourages some citizens to seek redress outside the justice system.

Capturing people's opinions from all sections of society
The Justice Index 2012, jointly conducted by the Viet Nam Lawyers' Association (VLA), the Centre for Community Support Development Studies (CECODES), with United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) support, built on the actual experiences of more than 5,000 people from a cross-section of society living in 21 provinces and cities across the country. The index captured people’s opinions and assessment of State institutions’ performance in ensuring justice and fundamental rights for citizens.

“The Justice Index introduces a new approach to the assessment of legal and judicial reform processes,” said Mr. Bakhodir Burkhanov, UNDP Deputy Country Director in Viet Nam. “We hope that the index can provide a useful reference for further reforms towards making the legal and judicial system more effective and responsive to the needs and aspirations of the people.”

Environmental pollution, land disputes main concerns to access justice

The Justice Index 2012 revealed the extent of some State agencies’ inefficiencies, with one-fifth of all citizens’ complaints on social entitlement policy and environmental pollution having received no feedback from appropriate State agencies. At the same time, the settlement of approximately half of all land disputes and environmental complaints were unresolved pending State action and it often took State agencies a longer time to handle administrative complaints than allowed by law. In fact, the average time taken to address an administrative complaint ranged from 17 to 27 months, depending on the type of individual or household enquiry.  

According to nearly half of the surveyed people, land disputes were the most common type of dispute and a ‘disturbing’ issue in their localities. Up to 38 per cent of land disputes are related to land use rights certificates, compensation and reallocation. The surveyed people revealed that existing land use regulations and opaque local land use plans have led to citizens’ distrust of land tenure security and resistance to long-term land investments.  

The Justice Index 2012 also found inequality in opportunities to realize fundamental rights and to participate in the Constitution reform process, especially among socially disadvantaged groups such as people with low education, poor people and women. Four-out-of-10 citizens ‘had never heard of’ or ‘did not know about’ the Constitution. Of those who knew, 23 per cent were unaware of the ongoing Constitutional revision process.

People voiced demands for a responsive, efficient, reliable, professional and accessible justice system with a high level of integrity. The survey underscored that judicial reform and enhanced law enforcement were essential to achieve a higher level of human development in Viet Nam.

More information?
The Justice Index 2012 looks into five dimensions of the administration of justice and rule of law as perceived and experienced by the people, in particular accessibility, equity, integrity, reliability and efficiency along with a guarantee of fundamental rights.

For further information you can download the Justice Index 2012 report, the press release and speech.