How will mothers abandoning their newborns in public places be handled in Vietnam?
As provided in the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child, which was ratified by the General Assembly of the United Nations on November 20, 1989, every child has the right to live and to be cared for and nurtured before as well as after birth. Specifically, parents have the responsibility to raise and educate their children and make sure their children have food and clothes.
According to Vietnam’s Law on Child Protection, Care and Education, children, whether female or male, in or out of wedlock, biological or adopted, born to one party or both parties to a marriage, are all protected, cared for and educated, and enjoy rights provided by law. All acts of infringing upon children’s rights or causing harms to normal development of children will be severely punished by law. In addition, the Law on Marriage and Family requests parents to look after, raise, care for, and protect the lawful rights and interests of their children.
In any circumstance, the abandonment of a newborn violates the above-mentioned law and regulations and is therefore subject to sanction(s) prescribed in Government Decree No. 144 dated October 29, 2013, on sanctioning of administrative violations in social protection and relief and child protection and care.
Specifically, a fine of between VND 10 million and 15 million will be imposed for act of abandoning or refusing to take care of or nurture a child after birth or on a parent or guardian who fails to fulfill his/her nurturing obligation, severs sentimental and physical relations with a child, intentionally abandons a child in a public place, abandons or forces a child to not live together with his/her family, leaves a child in self-care, and refuses to take care of, nurture and educate a child, or lets a child fall into special circumstances.
Abandoning a newborn is against the law and morally unacceptable and should be fiercely condemned. However, such an act will only be criminally handled in some specified circumstances where it has a fatal consequence, i.e. death of the newborn, and is therefore regarded as a crime. As a result, a mother who abandons her newborn may not be criminally charged if the abandoned child is found alive. She may only be administratively handled or morally condemned.
Only in case the abandoned child is found dead, may his/her mother be criminally charged depending on the following circumstances:
If the abandoned child is under seven days old:
The mother may be accused of murdering a newborn under Article 94 of the Penal Code. Depending on the severity of her criminal act, she may be sentenced to imprisonment of between three months and two years or to non-custodial reform for up to two years.
If the abandoned child is over seven days old:
The mother may be examined for penal liability for murdering a newborn if she could foresee the death of her abandoned child but was still willing to do so or let such consequence occur. Under Article 93 of the Penal Code, she may be sentenced to imprisonment of between twelve and twenty years, life imprisonment or death.
In case the mother wishes and does believe that her abandoned child will soon be found alive and kept safe by someone, she will be regarded as having accidentally caused human death and will be examined for penal liability under Article 98.1 of the Penal Code. In this case, she may be sentenced to imprisonment of between six months and five years. If she has several extenuating circumstances specified in Article 46.1 of the Penal Code, the court may apply Article 47 of the Penal Code to decide to impose a penalty of under six months in prison or change to a lighter penalty.- (VLLF)