Speech at the workshop on the draft law on administrative sanctions

Dec 13, 2010

Speaker: Ms. Setsuko Yamazaki, UNDP Country Director
Date:      13 and 14 December 2010
Event:     Workshop on the draft law on administrative sanctions

Mr. Hoang The Lien, Standing Vice-Minister of Justice;
Representatives from the Drafting Board and Editing Board of the draft Law on Administrative Sanctions;
My UN colleagues;

The issue of administrative sanctions and administrative detention, and their affect on human rights, is very important to the United Nations in Viet Nam. I am therefore very pleased with this opportunity for the UN to engage with the Drafting Board on the Law on Administrative Sanctions and the agencies represented on it.

The workshop today builds on an earlier workshop in Halong Bay in July, which was organised by the Ministry of Justice with UNICEF support. As in Halong Bay, this workshop shows the UN ‘delivering as one”, with attendance from all the UN agencies engaged with the Government on administrative sanction. This helps ensure an effective and coherent channel of dialogue between the Government and the UN.

Administrative sanctions, and administrative detention in particular, are of special concern to the UN because they affect vital human rights and interests, including the right to liberty itself. We regard the forthcoming Law on Administrative Sanctions as a key opportunity for Viet Nam to bring its legal framework further in line with its international human rights commitments.

I would like to take this opportunity to highlight four key issues, from the UN’s perspective, that are important to address in relation to the current administrative sanctions system.

First of all, the UN believes that administrative detention centres for drug users and sex workers provide neither effective treatment nor rehabilitation. 

Secondly, due to fear of administrative detention and associated stigma, many drug users and sex workers are reluctant to access HIV prevention, treatment, care and support services in the communities. And the UN is concerned that the provision of HIV prevention, treatment, care and support services in administrative detention centres is limited or non-existent.

Thirdly, the current legal framework does not provide those at risk of being sentenced to administrative detention with the procedural safeguards to which they are entitled under international human rights law. They have no right to a hearing; they are not provided with the opportunity to propose or challenge evidence; they have no right to a lawyer or other representative; and there is no guarantee of prompt access to a judge to review the legality of the detention.

Finally, in relation to juveniles in conflict with the law, the current legal framework is not yet in line with the Convention on the Rights of the Child, in a number of respects. For instance, the best interest of the child is not always the primary consideration, arrest and deprivation of liberty are not used as last resort for the shortest appropriate period of time, diversion and restorative justice programmes have not been implemented, there is no participation of the juvenile or family members in the decision-making process, and privacy is not adequately protected.

Today we have the opportunity to hear from experts on the system of administrative detention in China and in Malaysia, on the current debates and trends in those countries, and to see how they are dealing with these issues. As Asian countries with systems of administrative detention that bear some similarities with Viet Nam, I am sure that this exchange of views and experience will be invaluable for the Government in considering how to renovate the system of administrative sanctions through the new Law.

In closing, I would like to assure the Drafting Board that the UN Country Team stands ready to offer our continued assistance to the drafting committee, as the drafting process continues. We hope that the new Law can fully reflect Viet Nam’s international human rights commitments and internationally-accepted standards.
I wish you a successful workshop. Thank you.

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