Vietnam to criminalize sex bribes next year

By Vi Vu   December 13, 2017 | 03:45 am PT
Taking non-material bribes like sex will be a crime under the revised Penal Code, but a top judge says the definition is 'vague.'

People who take non-material bribes will face criminal charges in Vietnam starting from the beginning of next year, which means anyone who accepts sex as a form of bribery could face jail time of up to seven years.

However, legal experts and officials say the terms are not specific enough to be implemented effectively.

The revised Penal Code expands the definition of bribery to include non-material forms besides the more traditional offers such as money, houses, cars and other tangible objects with a market price.

The new law says that those convicted of accepting non-material bribes will be punished by two to seven years in jail. But it does not clearly spell out the penalties against those who offer such bribes.

The range of non-material bribes the law covers has not been specified, but legal experts say they include sex, educational opportunities, among other things.

Nguyen Hoa Binh, the chief justice of the Supreme People’s Court, has been quoted by local media as saying that the definition of the crime is still too “vague.”

He said the court will issue further instructions in the near future.

The 2015 Penal Code had been scheduled to come into effect in July 2016, and at the time, many legislators proposed that the acceptance of sex as a form of bribery be treated as a crime.

The law was shelved due to multiple errors and loopholes and only received final approval from the legislative National Assembly in June. The session reportedly heard no discussions on the sex-bribe matter.

In Vietnam, the practice of passing money under the table is so common many don't consider it bribery, but an inevitable part of getting things done. For years studies have confirmed what everyone in the country knows: Bribery is bad and getting worse.

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