Under the support of “Governance of Inclusive Growth” (GIG) Program which is funded by USAID, the project “Supporting Gender Assessment of the Law on Legal Aid 2006 from CEDAW and Human Rights Perspective” funded by UNWOMEN, on 6th – 7th June 2016, the National Legal Aid Agency (NLAA) organized the “Workshop on Survey Report on Legal Aid needs and the Implementation of the 2006 Law on Legal Aid”.
Participants include representatives from Ministries, departments, partners, professionals of many national and international organizations; representatives from many units of the Ministry; representatives of Departments of Justice and Provicial Legal Aid Centers; lawyers and legal professional; a number of members of Drafting Committee, Editorial Team of the amendments of Law on Legal Aid and other related agencies, organizations and individuals.
As opening the Workshop, Mr. Nguyen Khanh Ngoc, Deputy Minister of Justice, emphasized that legal aid is a major policy of the Party and the State for the poor, policy beneficiaries and other vulnerable groups in the society. It is the responsibility of the State. Therefore, the People should be able to access to high quality legal aid services. The 2006 Law on Legal Aid was incorporated into the 2016 Program on Building Laws and Ordinances which is expected to be submitted to the National Assembly in Session 2, 10th June 2017. In that context, the MOJ authorized NLAA to chair the Workshop with the colaboration of many agencies to conduct surveys on demand for legal aid and assess the implementation of the 2006 Law on Legal Aid at localities in order to provide an overview picture of demand and practice of legal aid work in Vietnam, summarize the shortcomings, assessments, recommendations and proposals for members of Drafting Committee to consult for the amendments of the Law on Legal Aid .
The Deputy Minister stated that during 02 days of the workshop, delegates, professionals and legal aid practitioners focused on discussing about shortcomings and limitations of the legal aid organization and activities; comment on the findings, proposals in the draft Survey Report; from that provide specific comments on the Draft of the amendments of the Law on Legal Aid. In addition, the Deputy Minister also suggested that international professionals should share experiences on situations or problems to refer in the management of legal aid and development of the amendments of the Law on Legal Aid.
On behalf of the Group of survey experts, Mrs. Vu Thi Huong, Deputy Director of the NLAA presented a Draft Report on the Overall Results of the Survey on Legal Aid of Vietnam. Associate Professor – Doctor Chu Hong Thanh, expert from GIG project, made a speech about a Draft Report on in-depth Interview on Demand for Legal Aid in 9 Provinces, and provide some findings, recommendations and proposals relating to the amendments of the Law on Legal Aid.
During the workshop, participants discussed actively, contributed many ideas related to the Draft Law, problems and obstables from the actual practice of legal aid at localities. International experts also shared experiences on legal aid from many countries, especially from ASEAN nations.
Most of delegates agreed with the Draft Law. They confirmed that legal aid is the responsibility of the State; legal aid beneficiaries should be broadened; legal aid providers should be more professional and more diverse; organizational apparatus should be leaner, more efficient and the quality of the legal aid work should be enhanced; apart from the State budget, contribution from related individuals and organizations should be attracted and mobilized. However, there are still some opposing comments on the organizational model of legal aid (whether it should be vertical or remain as present with appropriate and efficient alignment).
After two intensive days, there were nearly 30 delegates exchanging ideas on the proposed content. As an evaluation on the workshop, Mrs. Nguyen Thi Minh – Director General of NLAA stated that the Workshop received significant results. There were many insightful comments from the perspective of theory and practice, especially the opinions of foreign experts on international experiences. The opinions answered some questions related to the content of the Draft Law. The comments at the Workshop will be discussed and reported to the leaders of MOJ by the Drafting Committee to continue completing the amendments of the Law on Legal Aid, which is expected to submit to the Government in the upcoming month.