Justice seeks a firmer footing

Aug 20, 2002

Ha Noi - The Viet Nam's justice system is to make a futher step toward more independence as the Supreme People's Court is bracing to take over the management of local courts from the Ministry of Justice.

This transfer of responsibility is the subject of an international workshop held today by the Supreme People's Court (SPC) with the support from the UN Development Programme (UNDP). The focus of the workshop is on a draft Ordinance on Judges and Assessors of the People's Courts. This draft Ordinance, to be adopted by the Standing Committee of the National Assembly by 1 October 2002, focuses on appointment of judges to ensure they work with both independence and accountability.

"Judicial independence is crucial if Viet Nam is to realize fully its commitment to the rule of law", said UNDP Resident Representative Mr. Jordan Ryan. "An independent judge, answerable only to the law and free from outside pressures, protects the rights of all citizens."Ryan noted that this new draft ordinance is an important step to develop procedural safeguards on how a judge is nominated, appointed and removed from the office.

The workload of the judicial system has increased rapidly as the country deepens its reform. Viet Nam's transition to a market economy increasingly challenges the SPC to more efficiently response to the needs of the people. People's courts at various levels have heard over 850,000 cases over the past five years, ranging from massive criminal probes to complaints and disputes on family affairs.

As the UN's global development network, UNDP has brought to the workshop the expertise and experience from senior judges and experts from Japan, Norway, Peru, Sweden, and the United States who understand both civil and common law systems. UNDP also has drawn on the expertise of international organizations such as the American Bar Association, UNDP's International Legal Resource Center and the UNDP Governance Center of Oslo, Norway.
A similar workshop will be held in Ho Chi Minh later this month for judges and legal experts in the South.

Contact informationNguyen Viet Lan, Tel: 942 1495; Fax: 942 2267