UNODC supports Viet Nam in updating its legal framework to better combat transnational organized crime

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Hanoi (Viet Nam), 23 April 2021 - The United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) and the Supreme People’s Procuracy held the first workshop of a series of activities aimed at drafting a new law on mutual legal assistance in criminal matters in Viet Nam.

As globalization facilitates the movement of goods, people and money, it also provides new opportunities for transnational organized crime. The COVID-19 pandemic led not only to an increase in digital communications but also to a rise in cybercrime offenses. Efficiently combating them requires national law enforcement and judicial authorities to exchange evidence across borders through mutual legal assistance.

More than 60 prosecutors and government officials from Viet Nam as well as UNODC and foreign criminal justice experts participated in the workshop entitled “Experience sharing on the development of mutual legal assistance laws on criminal matters”.

Ms. Kieu Phuong Lien, Vice Director of the Mutual Legal Assistance Division, Department of International Cooperation and Mutual Legal Assistance in Criminal Matters at the Supreme People’s Procuracy, highlighted that since the adoption of Viet Nam’s mutual legal assistance law in 2008, the country has received more than 800 mutual legal assistance requests and sent more than 700 requests to foreign authorities. This international cooperation contributed to the settlement of many criminal cases affecting Vietnamese citizens.

However, similar to a lot of other countries, Viet Nam still faces challenges regarding mutual legal assistance, including lengthy processes and discrepancies between legal frameworks. Moreover, Viet Nam’s mutual legal assistance law regulates mutual legal assistance in civil and criminal matters, as well as extradition and transfer of prisoners. To address these issues, the Supreme People’s Procuracy is developing a new law that would focus on mutual legal assistance in criminal matters. UNODC is supporting these efforts through a Korean-funded assistance project entitled “Strengthening regional cooperation and the capacity of ASEAN countries to counter corruption and other serious crimes”.

The workshop provided an opportunity to exchange information and share expertise on mutual legal assistance in Viet Nam, practical difficulties encountered, and results achieved. Representatives of the Attorney General’s Department of Australia, the Ministry of Justice of the Czech Republic, the Attorney General’s Chambers of Singapore, the Office of the Attorney General of Thailand and the Supreme People’s Procuracy of Viet Nam shared their experience and expertise in developing efficient legislation on mutual legal assistance in criminal matters.

The information gathered and a study conducted by UNODC will be the basis for follow-up activities to draft the new mutual legal assistance law in criminal matters. This falls within the Supreme People’s Procuracy initiative to reform Viet Nam’s criminal justice system, harmonize national laws with international standards, and enhance international integration as well as cross-border cooperation.

As the custodian of the United Nations Convention against Transnational Organized Crime, UNODC is mandated to support Member States on mutual legal assistance in transnational criminal cases. UNODC has developed tools to facilitate international cooperation, such as the UNODC Model Treaty on Mutual Assistance in Criminal Matters, the Model Law on Mutual Assistance in Criminal Matters, and the Mutual Legal Assistance Request Writer Tool (MLA Tool). The UNODC Regional Office for Southeast Asia and the Pacific (ROSEAP) is contributing to these efforts and implements several projects facilitating mutual legal assistance in criminal matters.

Click here to learn more about ROSEAP’s work on criminal justice systems

Click here to learn more about UNODC tools on international cooperation in criminal matters