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Viet Nam prioritises adoption of international standards in combating transnational organised crime

Hanoi (Viet Nam), 23 May 2016 - Over 70 judges, prosecutors, lawyers, police officers, legal advisors from the Government of Viet Nam, and experts from UNODC and AGD, have come together to discuss recent revisions to Viet Nam's penal code, particularly those related to transnational organised crime. At a workshop held to support implementation of the revisions, participants focused on amendments related to corruption, money laundering, and human trafficking and migrant smuggling.

Transnational organised crime continues to increase in scale and complexity throughout Viet Nam and Southeast Asia. Consisting of 186 parties, the UN Convention on Transnational Organised Crime (UNTOC) is one of the most effective and widely ratified treaties dealing with these threats.

Viet Nam has reaffirmed its commitment to fighting transnational organised crime through ratification of UNTOC on 8 June 2012, and subsequently, the adoption of the amended Penal Code 2015 by the 13th Viet Nam National Assembly on November 27th 2015. The new Penal Code codifies a number of key components of UNTOC and the UN Convention against Corruption (UNCAC), and therefore better reflects international norms and facilitates international cooperation in the fight against crime.

"The amendments in the new Penal code reflect the reality of fighting crime in the context of international integration", said Mr. Dinh Trung Tung, Viet Nam's Vice Minister of Justice. "The new Penal Code 2015 has been designed to help Viet Nam combat domestic and international crimes that result from increasing international and regional integration, and it provides law enforcement with a comprehensive legal base for international cooperation."

"The revised Vietnam Penal Code highlights the importance of protecting human rights and severely curtails the death penalty", said Mr. Chris Batt, UNODC Regional Advisor on Anti-Money Laundering and the UNODC Officer-In-Charge in Viet Nam. "The new code also emphasizes non-custodial penalties and community involvement in a shift away from retributive justice towards restorative justice. All of these changes reflect the changing attitude in Vietnam towards the criminal justice system."

These changes directly contribute towards the Sustainable Development Goals, and in particular, Goal 16, which is dedicated to promoting peaceful, just and inclusive societies.

"Goal 16 also underscores the importance of reduction of all forms of violence, corruption and bribery, the importance of recovery and return of stolen assets and combat against all forms of organized crime," Mr. Batt added. "The law is only as good as its implementation, and UNODC and Australian Attorney-General's Department (AGD) are pleased to have the opportunity to work with Vietnamese officials and practitioners on how to convert these legal improvements into quantifiable positive changes on the ground."

The workshop was supported by international experts from UNODC and AGD, who shared their experiences on dealing with these issues.

A similar workshop was also held in Ho Chi Minh City last week, with additional participation from law enforcement agencies in the South of Viet Nam. The workshops are part of an ongoing initiative by UNODC and AGD to support revisions to,, and the implementation of, the Penal Code in order to ensure compliance with international standards and to better protect rights of the most vulnerable groups. UNODC and the AGD have been involved throughout the reform process, and have provided ongoing feedback and suggested amendments through face-to-face meetings with respective drafting teams, dialogues, workshops and consultations with relevant stakeholders.