Remarks at International workshop “Innovation of Organization of Criminal Investigation Agencies, People’s Procuracies and People’s Courts in accordance with Judicial Reform”

Aug 5, 2013

Speaker: Mr. Bakhodir Burkhanov, UNDP Deputy Country Director
Date:       Monday, 5 August 2013
Event:     International workshop “Innovation of Organization of Criminal Investigation Agencies, People’s Procuracies and People’s Courts in accordance with Judicial Reform”
Venue:    Da Nang, Viet Nam

Mr. Uông Chu Lưu, Vice Chair of National Assembly
Mr. Nguyễn Văn Hiện, Chair of Judiciary Committee
Vice-Chairs of Judiciary Committee
Honorable National Assembly Deputies
Distinguished international experts
Ladies and gentlemen:

I would like to thank the Judiciary Committee for this opportunity to address Members of the National Assembly as part of today’s discussion on the organization and function of key justice institutions, investigation agencies, courts and procuracies. We would like to acknowledge the Judiciary Committee’s very proactive approach in preparing for the revision of laws on organization of justice agencies in Viet Nam. I am very pleased that UNDP has supported the Committee – and the National Assembly, more broadly – in this important work.

Renovating the administration of justice is a key element of the ongoing Constitutional amendment and judicial reform process, so this workshop is very timely. Let me offer a few thoughts in relation to the focus of this workshop:

Firstly, the review of the enforcement of laws is a good opportunity to bring about greater coherence of the Viet Nam legal system and judicial practices, as well as their compatibility with international laws and human rights standards. With regards to the latter, for instance, the right to counsel, the right to “hearing before a competent, independent and impartial tribunal established by law” are key principles that Viet Nam as a State Party of the International Convention on Civil and Political Rights has committed to uphold.

Secondly, the Politburo Resolution 49 identifies building an ethical and fair judiciary as a key objective of the reform process, and observes the rising demands of the society on the functioning of the judiciary. In this spirit, the theme of this workshop lends itself to discussing how legislative changes can help increase access to justice, particularly for the poor, women and vulnerable groups. Disparities in access to justice, unfortunately, still exist. According to the Supreme Court’s statistic, only 20% of those accused of crime had access to lawyers. A UN commissioned study on domestic violence shows that 1/3 of all women have experienced domestic violence, but so far less than one in hundred cases resulted in a criminal conviction. These data, among others, shows that scope remains to enhance access to justice for all and to bring the law closer to the people it is meant to serve.

Last but not least, the review provides an excellent opportunity to examine relevant international experiences and practices in modernizing the justice sector in Viet Nam. The introduction of an adversarial system in court adjudication, the establishment of regional courts, and the independence of judges and jurors in judicial adjudication are not only key tasks that are set forth in the Judiciary Reform Strategy, but also the vehicles of innovation towards a modern and robust judiciary in Viet Nam. In this connection, I am pleased to acknowledge the presence of our international experts – Charles Greenfield and Tomoya Mori – who have joined us today to share comparative experiences from their respective countries. I hope their presentations will stimulate an active discussion and exchange among participants.

Ladies and gentlemen,

Viet Nam is now a Middle-Income Country facing new challenges of reform and transition, including the need to foster modern democratic institutions. Without a doubt, a principal reform direction is promoting the judicial sector that is responsive to the people’s aspirations, effective in defending their interests and rights, and efficient and transparent in its conduct. Steadfast implementation of these reforms would be vital for continued stability, social cohesion and economic prosperity. The National Assembly has an important oversight role to play in this regard to ensure the reform process addresses the needs of all stakeholders, and that its outcome is ultimately accountable to the state and the people of Viet Nam.

UNDP has provided technical support to the National Assembly and its bodies since early 1990s. Our partnership with the Judiciary Committee is more recent but very promising; it recognizes the important role of the Committee in judicial affairs. We look forward to working closely with the Committee through evidence-based studies to support law-making and oversight by the National Assembly. One such prospective initiative is the development of a scientifically rigorous and consistent index of data and analysis to measure the implementation of the judicial reform initiatives, as well as progress in administration of justice more broadly. Such an index could be an important monitoring tool for the Committee.

In closing, I hope the discussions and outcomes of this workshop will provide useful direction for this critical reform effort; help inform the revisions to relevant laws; and support members of the National Assembly to identify the gaps and solutions to renovate justice institutions in Viet Nam. UNDP remains committed to supporting the National Assembly and its Judiciary Committee in their oversight function.

I very much look forward to the workshop sessions today and wish all participants fruitful and stimulating discussions.

Xin Cảm Ơn va Chúc Sức Khỏe.

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