The right to remain silent when arrested or interrogated was brought up during the NA Standing Committee discussion on amendments of law of the People's Court and Supreme People's Procuratorate.
A police officer is giving questions to an arrestee.
According to Nguyen Hoa Binh, head of the Supreme People's Procuratorate, when it was suggested that the right to silence be added to Code of Criminal Procedure, varying opinions were voiced. The lawyers largely in favour of such an amendment, but investigation agencies were not.
"We need to pass legislation to protect human's rights. Legalising the right to silence would be part of this effort. The accused has the right to silence in the investigation process but when on trial, the accused has a duty to divulge information to a public official. This is because all citizens are responsible for preventing and fighting crime," said Tran Van Do, deputy chief justice of the Supreme People's Court.
"If we could encode the right to silence into our law and allow lawyers to defend the accused, that would be great. However, considering the circumstances of our country, this is not feasible. Requiring the presence of a lawyer at all times would be difficult," said Nguyen Thai Phuc, director of Institute of Justice.
However, Bui Quang Nghiem, vice chairman of the HCM City Bar Association, remarked, "Some have given the opinion that we shouldn't apply this right yet. I think that's just a way of withholding human rights from the accused and preventing lawyers from doing their jobs. We have to act boldly on this issue. If there is a practical problem, we have to fix it. Otherwise, when will the rights of defendants be protected?"
"Many injustices in the past might have been avoided if we had guaranteed the right to silence. Another problem is that lawyers also play a role in the investigation process, but investigators often make it hard for attorneys to help their clients. Recognition of defendants' right to silence could help rectify the situation," said Le Quang Y, chairman of Dong Nai Bar Association.
"Most other countries have recognised the right to remain silent in some legal way. I think it's time we also have to acknowledge this right in the next revision of the Criminal Procedure Code," said Vo Kim Oanh, dean of the Criminal Law Department of HCMC Law University.
"The right to remain silent is a human right, and human rights must be respected and not infringed upon. It is true that we lack lawyers, but we still have many paralegals and legal assistants who are being promoted," said Nguyen Duy Hung, dean of the department of law of Thu Dau Mot University, Binh Duong.
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