UNDP Awarded for Supporting Viet Nam’s Justice Reform

19 Mar 2003

Ha Noi - The UN Development Programme (UNDP) received an Award of Recognition from the Supreme People’s Court of Viet Nam, as a tribute to its assistance to the development of the country’s Judicial System.

The Award of Recognition was presented by Dr. Nguyen Van Hien, Chief Justice in a ceremony held today in Ha Noi. Mr. Hien said the Supreme People’s Court of Viet Nam highly valued the long-standing support of UNDP to the Court in its reform efforts. He said: "The reform process in the Judiciary has significantly improved the quality of the judicial work, ensuring the citizens’ legitimate rights and interests and social justice. Judicial reform has great impact on socio-economic development, poverty reduction and public administration reform in Viet Nam."

UNDP Resident Representative Mr. Jordan Ryan said he was pleased to see that the judicial reform, initiated by the Party’s Resolution No 08, was put high on the overall reform agenda. The Resolution has paved the way for the enhancement of judicial independence and greater effectiveness of the court system.

“We are delighted and honoured to receive this Award in recognition of UNDP’s support to the Supreme People’s Court's efforts in establishing a modern, efficient and professional Judiciary that regards all citizens as equal before the law,” said UNDP’s Ryan.

Mr. Ryan praised the recent shift of the local court management from the Ministry of Justice to the Supreme People’s Court, as an important step to strengthen the autonomy of the Judiciary. He said: “Judicial independence is crucial if Viet Nam is to realize fully its commitment to the rule of law. An independent judge, answerable only to the law and free from outside pressures, protects the rights of all citizens.” Mr. Ryan cited the Judiciary’s progress including setting time limits to speed up trials, improved training for judicial officials and improved access to legal aid for the poor.

The quality of justice depends very much on the quality of judges and court officials. In this regard, the UNDP and Denmark-supported project “Strengthening Judicial Capacity in Viet Nam” has helped enhance substantive knowledge and professional skills for a significant number of justices, judges and other court officials. Activities such as training and comparative law exchanges, have generated positive implications and impacts on the daily judicial work, resulting in improved public confidence.

As the country deepens its reform, the judicial system faces an increased workload and struggles to reduce the backlog on the judiciary's docket. Viet Nam’s transition to a market economy increasingly challenges the Court 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.

Judicial reform lies at the heart of Viet Nam’s efforts to build a sound, healthy and well-functioning law implementation machinery as the platform that underpins the renovation process. UNDP deeply appreciates the trust and confidence placed by the Government and the Judiciary of Viet Nam in its role and efforts, and will continue to provide full support to the current and future reforms towards greater democratic governance.

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