Ministry given more time to work on public demonstration law

By Viet Tuan   May 12, 2020 | 01:38 am PT
Ministry given more time to work on public demonstration law
People gather to protest against provisions of a draft law on Vietnam's three Special Economic Zones (SEZs) in Ho Chi Minh City, June 2018. Photo by VnExpress/Thanh Nguyen.
The draft law on public demonstrations in Vietnam, which has been planned for nine years now, will not be submitted to the parliament for discussion in its upcoming session.

Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc has approved a request by the Ministry of Public Security to postpone the date of submission of the bill to the National Assembly (NA).

The ministry has asked for more time to make the bill more coherent, it said in a letter responding to voters who asked about the time frame for submitting the bill to the parliament.

As directed by the government, the ministry has worked with related agencies and learned from the experiences of Russia, China, South Korea and Thailand in working on the Law on Demonstration.

The draft law has received feedback from related ministries and departments, and it has been appraised by the Ministry of Justice, and cabinet members, but there are many issues that need to be resolved, the ministry said.

The issues have to do with the basics of the law – on who is allowed to demonstrate, under what conditions demonstrations can be organized, and who can authorize a demonstration.

"The Law on Demonstration will have a great impact on the social life and attract great attention from the public and thus it needs to be studied carefully and should be realistic.

"Besides, its quality must be guaranteed so that anti-state groups cannot take advantage of loopholes and engage in sabotage," the ministry said.

On the other hand, for the Law on Demonstration to work effectively, other related laws have to be completed including the Emergency Law and the Law on Management and Use of Weapons, Explosives and Combat Gear.

The draft law on demonstration was to be submitted and discussed at the next NA session opening May 20.

Now, in its latest statement, the ministry does not specify for how long the submission will be delayed.

NA delegate Duong Trung Quoc said many countries have laws on public demonstration, which is a basic right.

"I endorse the drafting of this law to prevent illegal demonstrations and create conditions for legal ones to promote social progress," he said.

Multiple delays

The NA gave the nod for drafting the Law on Demonstration back in November 2011.

In February 2016, the Justice Ministry suggested that the NA postpone discussing the bill from March 2016 to the end of that year.

Then in July 2016, the National Assembly Standing Committee said there were still issues with important parts of the draft law and pushed submission until the following year.

Later, at the committee’s meeting in April 2017, Justice Minister Le Thanh Long said the bill had been prepared by the Ministry of Public Security and it was time for the justice ministry to appraise it. Long said the justice ministry had found that the bill was not qualified enough to go further. Since then, the bill has remained with the public security ministry.

In 2018, large crowds of protesters gathered in Ho Chi Minh City, Da Nang, Hanoi, Nha Trang, Binh Thuan and other places to protest against provisions of a draft law on Vietnam's three Special Economic Zones (SEZs).

Information that the provision would allow foreign investors to lease land for 99 years was the primary trigger for the protests. Vietnam’s current Land Law allows investors to rent land for up to 70 years.

Many instigators and demonstrators have been jailed after the protests. With Vietnam yet to pass the Law on Demonstration, acts to incite public protests are deemed illegal.

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