With the support of the Embassy of Ireland, United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) and Justice Partnership Program (JPP), the Ministry of Justice convened an international conference in Hanoi from 16th to 17th June, 2015 to review 8 years of implementing the Law on Legal Aid.
The conference was chaired by the Deputy Minister of Justice, Dr. Nguyen Thuy Hien with the attendance of more than 200 participants, including Mr. Tong Anh Hao, Deputy Chief Justice of the Supreme People’s Court, Mr. Nguyen Thanh Tinh, Vice Chairman of People’s Committee of Ba Ria – Vung Tau; representatives of the Ministry of Finance (Legal Department), Ministry of Public Security (the legal administrative reform and judicial Department), the Ministry of Home Affairs (Legal Department), the Supreme People's Procuracy (academy procurator); the Supreme People's Court (Judicial Sciences Institute), Vietnam Bar Federation, Vietnam Central Lawyer Association, etc; Ms. Chiara Popplewell - Second Secretary of Embassy of Ireland; representatives of UNDP, UNODC, UNAIDS and representatives of the Provincial Department of Justice, Legal Aid Center of provinces in the north and experts.
International and national experts discussed and shared information and their experiences in legal aid, including the responsibility of the State in ensuring the right to legal aid of vulnerable people; socialization of legal aid, legal aid organizations, legal aid providers, legal aid beneficiaries, legal aid budget,..
Affter 8 years of implementing the Law on legal aid, a few key achievements have been achieved are as follow:
- It is asserted that legal aid organizations have seriously implemented the Law on Legal Aid and its subordinate documents.
- The legal normative documents on legal aid were approved..
- The network of legal aid organizations was set up nationwide with 63 Legal Aid Centers; 199 Legal Aid Branches at district level; 427 organizations participating in legal aid. Legal aid providers were enhanced with 572 Legal Aid officials, 1,136 lawyers and more than 9,600 collaborators.
- 940,183 legal aid cases have been dealt for 987,949 people, including the poor, people with meritorious for the Revolution, ethnic minority and other vulnerable people.
- Legal aid activities of social organizations have been implemented diversely and have obtained some achievements.
Furthermore, the participants also seriously discussed shortcomings and limitations of the 2006 Law on Legal Aid, such as: the concept of legal aid is not appropriate, legal aid form is broad, legal aid service is not qualified, legal aid beneficiaries are not comprehensive, a lack of policy on legal aid socialization, a lack of important regulation on the functions of state management agency on legal aid, ...
In addition, the implementation of the 2006 Law appeared some shortcomings such as: Communication activities of legal aid do not comply with focal point, hence, purpose and efficiency is not high; organizational structure of Legal aid centers is rather bulky in comparison with Department of Justice; legal aid activity does not focus on dealing with cases, especially proceeding cases, but still scatters in many different forms of legal aid; The budget allocation from the central and local budgets for legal aid is unreasonable …
Causes of these shortcomings are: legal aid framework is not completed, coordination among relevant agencies sometimes is not efficient, ...
In the closing remark, Deputy Minister Nguyen Thuy Hien emphazised that, the legal aid system of Vietnam should be reformed comprehensively in the next coming years . All resources of the State and social orgnizations should be spent for the implementation of the Reform Project on legal aid in period of 2015-2025 approved by Decision No. 749/QD-TTg dated 1st June, 2015 of the Prime Minister. She said that main duties of legal aid system were: improving quality of legal aid service; focusing on dealing with legal aid cases, especially proceeding cases; streamlining the organizational structure of legal aid organizations that fits with social – economic condition of each region, with legal aid needs, resources and social mobilization. She emphasized that legal aid is the responsibility of the State but the State mobilizes social resources for this such as: human resource, financial contribution, participation of lawyer associations, bar association at all levels.
All participants highly appreciated the conference and hoped that the National Legal Aid Agency would gather all opinions to develop amended Law on Legal Aid.