Vietnam only applies death penalty for ‘especially serious’ crimes

By Phan Anh   April 11, 2019 | 09:09 am PT
Vietnam only applies death penalty for ‘especially serious’ crimes
Former Petro Vietnam chairman Nguyen Xuan Son (R) is escorted by police as he leaves the court after being sentenced to death for embezzlement in Hanoi, September 29, 2017. Photo by Reuters/Kham
The application of the death penalty is a sovereign nation’s prerogative and Vietnam only applies it for very grave crimes.

Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Le Thi Thu Hang was responding Thursday to a report by Amnesty International on the death penalty and countries that still have it on their books.

She said the abolishment of capital punishment is not part of the international treaties on human rights to which Vietnam is a signatory.

The death penalty is only applied for "especially serious" crimes in accordance with the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, and the criminals are dealt with as per Vietnamese law, which guarantees transparency, fairness and their rights, she added.

Vietnam has many times reduced the number of crimes that can be punished with the death penalty. The latest Penal Code in 2015, which took effect in January 2018, removed the death sentence from eight crimes. It also says that people under 18, pregnant women, women taking care of an offspring below three years old and people aged 75 or above will not be sentenced to death for their crimes, said Hang.

On Wednesday, Amnesty International released a report on death penalties in 2018, saying that global executions fell by nearly a third in 2018 to 690, the lowest levels in a decade.

Vietnam executed at least 85 people last year, according to the report.

"Slowly but steadily, global consensus is building towards ending the use of the death penalty," said Kumi Naidoo, Amnesty International's Secretary General, as cited by AFP.

Vietnam has death punishment on its books for 15 crimes, including rape, murder, corruption, and offenses involving drugs and national security. The country switched from shooting by firing squad to lethal injection in 2013.

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