Vietnamese police general turns down people’s right to ask cops for ID

By Ba Do   August 18, 2016 | 02:41 pm GMT+7

Lawyers say it is a direct violation of the Constitution.

A Vietnamese police general on Wednesday said people do not have the right to question traffic police on duty, a stance that has met with strong opposition from some local lawyers.

In a meeting to kick off a campaign to ensure traffic safety during the country’s National Day holiday on September 2, Major General Tran Son Ha, director of the Traffic Police Department, told Hanoi's traffic police that they did not have to answer to members of the public when questioned about their actions.

“We do not have to present anything because we are authorized to deal with traffic violations on site. As all traffic police wear nameplates, people do not have right to ask for other ID. They do not have that right,” Ha said.

The general said people should not abuse their rights, set by law, when stopped by police. He also asked his staff to take resolute action against traffic violations. “If they [the violators] do not listen [to the police] or try to resist [orders], we must use force,” he added.

Major General Tran Son Ha, director of the Traffic Police Department, Ministry of Public Security. Photo by VnExpress/Ba Do

Major General Tran Son Ha, director of the Traffic Police Department, Ministry of Public Security. Photo by VnExpress/Ba Do

Pham Thanh Binh, director of Bao Ngoc Law Company in Hanoi, told VnExpress that people have the right, under the Constitution, to supervise law enforcement forces. He said if that right is denied, they might be deceived by fake cops.

Other legal experts agreed, saying people’s right to supervise the government’s operations, except matters of national security, is included in the Constitution and many laws, such as the Law on Information Access.

“Traffic police plan to crack down on traffic violations, but that is not a matter of national security, so they have every right to ask to see their papers. It is not prohibited by law,” a lawyer said.

In several video clips posted on the internet, people who were stopped by the police used a circular issued by the Ministry of Public Security to ask the officers to show documents to prove they were authorized to stop them.

Under the ministry cicular effective on February 15 this year, traffic police are authorized to pull over moving vehicles if they violations of traffic laws. They can also stop vehicles if they are on patrol or on operations approved by the head of the ministry’s Traffic Police Department, chiefs of provincial bureaus of police or heads of traffic police divisions at district level and higher.

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