The State’s responsibility for compensating those who’ve been wrongfully convicted was the hot topic at the National Assembly (NA) Standing Committee's sixth session that opened on January 9 in Hanoi.
Regulations on the administration of military courts, disciplinary action against retired officials and capital allocation for major projects are other topics that will be discussed during the three-day session.
The 14th National Assembly Standing Committee opens its sixth session in Hanoi__Photo: VNA
NA deputies will give their opinions on eight laws concerning state compensation liability, legal aid, foreign trade management, support for SMEs, planning, management and use of state property, management and use of weapons and explosives, and guard force.
The NA Standing Committee will also comment on the list of medium-term public investment projects identified for implementation in the 2016-20 period, as well as specific capital allocations thereof.
The deputies will also discuss procedures relating to the parliament’s oversight functions, the NA Standing Committee and NA deputies' delegations; and regulations on coordination between the Supreme People’s Court and the Minister of National Defense in the administration of military courts.
Commenting on the amended Law on State Compensation Liability, Le Huu The, deputy head of the Supreme People’s Procuracy, said the most difficult task was calculating the amount of compensation, because current regulations do not mention it specifically. The lack of criteria to set compensation levels meant that most cases dragged on for a long time, he added.
Nguyen Hoa Binh, Chief Justice of the Supreme People’s Court, said compensation for wrongful conviction in the case of Nguyen Thanh Chan had become a precedent for subsequent compensation agreements. Those who were wrongfully convicted typically used this case as a basis for calculating their damage claims, which led to “quite high compensation levels.”
However, if criteria set by the Ministry of Finance were applied, those wrongfully convicted would get very limited compensation, he said, citing Huynh Van Nen’s case as an example.
Many NA deputies agreed that the damage caused needs to be quantified as a basis for calculating compensation levels. They also agreed that the agency having made the final decision leading to wrongful conviction must also be responsible for apologizing and paying compensation on behalf of the State.
The stressed the need to distinguish between compensation and reimbursement. In principle, the State must pay compensation to those who have suffered injustice. Later, reimbursement of the compensation amount can be calculated, with staff responsible for the wrongful conviction asked to pay it, get transferred or have their wages reduced.
NA Vice Chairman Uong Chu Luu said most NA deputies agreed that the agency that took the decision leading to a wrongful conviction must take the responsibility for compensation and apologize for its error, but agencies conducting the proceedings should also take responsibility.
Most deputies disagreed with the idea of setting up an independent compensation fund, saying state agencies must utilize the state budget for this purpose.
Discussing the Law on Legal Aid, NA deputies noted that there were 73 highly experienced individuals providing legal aid without receiving any formal training in law. Most of these were leaders of centers providing legal aid, assigned the task by agencies other than the justice sector.
To standardize the criteria, the NA Standing Committee proposed that such people should be required to acquire formal lawyer certification within three years after the amended law takes effect.
NA Vice Chairman Uong Chu Luu recommended that related authorities and agencies continue to deal with current shortcomings, and report their analysis and proposals to the NA Standing Committee before submitting them to the NA.- (VNS/VLLF)