The National Legal Aid Agency of Vietnam (NLAA) convened a one-day conference on December 5, 2014 to solicit input for a project aimed at reforming the Law on Legal Aid.
Director General of the National Legal Aid Agency Dr. Nguyen Thi Minh chaired the conference in Hanoi attended by representatives of ministries and agencies at the central level including the Ministry of Justice and representatives such as legal aid officials and lawyers from 22 provinces.
The meeting provided an opportunity for those in attendance to review, comment and make suggestions for incorporation into an amendment to the Law on Legal Aid.
In a keynote address to the conference, Dr. Nguyen Thi Minh provided an overview of shortcomings encountered during eight years of implementing the Law on Legal Aid.
Dr. Minh said many underlying socio-economic and institutional factors have changed since it first came into effect in 2006, adding that changes to the Constitution in 2013 and a number of other laws relating legal aid work such as Law on Lawyers, Law on Legal Dissemination and Education, Law on Grassroots Mediation amended by the National Assembly have also precipitated the need for changes.
Basic principles promulgated by the General Assembly of the United Nations affecting legal aid as an essential element of the criminal justice system, the movement to a market oriented economy, the increase of the gap between the rich and the poor have also heavily influenced the need to amend it.
It’s incumbent upon the Party and the State to modify the Law on Legal Aid to ensure it is current with true socio-economic situation, particularly as it pertains to areas such as human rights, citizen rights and a criminal defendant’s right to counsel, Minh said.
Deputy Director of the National Legal Aid Agency Mr. Cu Thu Anh in turn shared many of the same views as Dr. Minh and expanded upon technical matters regarding amending the Law on Legal Aid and elaborated on its orientation.
In addition, there were six presentations addressing a diversity of topics ranging from innovative proposals to protecting fundamental rights and obligations of the poor and children to management issues to improve efficiencies.
At the conference participants held lively discussions pertaining to a variety of legal aid concepts and the role of the State in legal aid activity including – legal aid providers, legally aided persons, the legal aid method, and the scope and field of legal aid.
The amendment of the Law is an issue of premiere significance to the leaders of Ministry of Justice and therefore, the organizing board welcomes comments of the all those who participated in the conference.