Many Vietnam Legislators, Experts Skeptical About Recording during Interrogation

One of many victims tortured by Vietnamese police

Ngo Thanh Kieu from Phu Yen- one of many victims tortured by Vietnamese police during the past few years

A number of Vietnamese legislators and legal experts have expressed their doubt on implementation of video and audio recording during interrogation which is required in a law draft on Criminal Procedure Code, saying the works are costly and impractical.

By Vu Quoc Ngu, October 28, 2015

A number of Vietnamese legislators and legal experts have expressed their doubt on implementation of video and audio recording during interrogation which is required in a draft amendment to the Criminal Procedure Code, saying the requirements are costly and impractical.

Ho Chi Minh City-based lawmaker Do Van Duong, who is also a member of the parliament’s Committee for Judicial Affairs, said video and audio recording is a waste of money. Miscarriages of justice cases are only small portion of total criminal cases, he said.

About 60% of defendants have been caught red handed and there is no need for recording during interrogation, he said. He wonders who will be responsible for recording while investigation officers are not willing to do it.

Dong Nai province-based legislator Ho Van Nam said the requirement for audio and video recording during interrogation aims to prevent torture and coerced confession, however, the move requires huge spending on equipping police units with taping equipments.

The recording may be useless if investigators torture suspects to extract coerced confession and make formal record later, he warned.

Many senior police officers object to the amendment which is expected to ensure human rights of detainees during police interrogation.

Legislator Nguyen Duc Chung, head of the Hanoi Police Department, said recording is a complicated task and the country has no adequate infrastructure for its implementation.

Vietnam is holding about 100,000 detainees and criminal suspects, he said, adding the country would need to spend huge financial resources on recording interrogations in all cases, said Major General Chung said. He proposed implementing such recording in special cases only.

Legislator Bui Mau Quan, deputy head of the General Department of Security II under the Ministry of Public Security said if interrogators intend to torture, they will not record the questioning.

Dr. Nguyen Thi Thuy Thiep from the National Political Academy also said the recording during interrogation is very costly, given the country is holding 160,000 detainees on 100,000 criminal cases.

The country may have to spend tens of trillion of dong on building infrastructure for audio and video recording in police facilities, she said. In addition, huge investments are needed for preservation of video and audio files, she noted.

In order to ensure equality for all people, Vietnam needs to equip record machineries in all police facilities for interrogation, including in remote areas, which is impossible, she said.

Lawyer Truong Anh Tu said recording cannot effectively deal with torture and police abuse while lawyer Tran Van Duc said the requirement is very important but difficult to implement.

Criminal cases are on the rise in Vietnam. Last year, police probed 73,606 cases with 110,924 suspects.

Recently, many defendants have complained that they were tortured into making confession. A number of them were imprisoned for many years before being proven innocent, according to state media.

The Criminal Procedure Code amendments, prepared by the Ministry of Justice, are being debated by the country’s legislative body National Assembly in its ongoing second session for 2015.

Vietnam ratified the UN Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment in 2014, however, torture still occurs nationwide.