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Thayer Vietnam: Death by Lethal Injection Still a State Secret

Thayer Vietnam: Death by Lethal Injection Still a State Secret

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Published by Carlyle Alan Thayer
An assessment of reasons why Vietnam classifies judicial executions as a state secret and why Vietnam has moved to replace the firing squad with lethal injections.
An assessment of reasons why Vietnam classifies judicial executions as a state secret and why Vietnam has moved to replace the firing squad with lethal injections.

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Categories:Types, Research, Law
Published by: Carlyle Alan Thayer on Jul 07, 2012
Copyright:Attribution Non-commercial

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07/07/2012

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Background Brief:Vietnam: Death by LethalInjection Still a State SecretCarlyle A. ThayerJune 4, 2012
[client name deleted]Q1- Why does Vietnam still classify death penalty statistics as a state secret? Whateffect does this have?ANSWER: In January 2006 Vietnam issued a decree classifying statistics onexecutions as a state secret. Vietnam did so in response to diplomatic pressures by theinternational community, the donor community in particular, and to unwantedpublicity by international non-governmental human rights groups. Vietnam is acutelyconcerned about its international position and its national prestige.In February 2006 ,the Ministry of Public Security made a submission to the CentralJudiciary Reform Steering Commission to reduce the number of capital offenses from29 to 20. The Ministry also recommended that firing squads be replaced by lethal
injection because it was a “more humane” form of execution.In July 2008, for example, the head of the Ministry of Public Security’s
LegalDepartment stated that his ministry had sent a recommendation to the NationalAssembly to abolish the death penalty for twelve crimes (including smuggling, tradein counterfeit products and hijacking). According the head of the Law Department,Nguyen Ngoc An, the proposed amendment to the Penal/Criminal Code was draftedto bring Vietnam in compliance with world trends to humanize laws and completelyabolish the death penalty.There was the celebrated case of Canadian drug smuggler Nguyen Thi Hiep who wasexecuted in 2000 despite appeals for clemency by the Canadian Government. Canadasuspended ministerial contact for several months in response.In November 2004, the European Union conducted a seminar in Hanoi forVietnamese officials on the abolition of the dealt penalty. The seminar wascoordinated by the Danish Institute for Human Rights. The British governmentcontributed financially to this seminar. It was reported by diplomatic observers thatVietnam was undergoing an internal debate about capital punishment.While Vietnam does not publish figures on the number of death penalties andexecutions by firing squad, the state-controlled media publishes stories on individualstate executions and partial figures on state executions. This publicity is designed toserve as a deterrent to criminals, particularly those who traffic in drugs.In 2006,
the Vietnamese press reported that “around 100 people are executed by firingsquad each year.” In 2007, the media reported that 104 persons were executed. In
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