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Vietnam: Legislature Considers Law on Guard Force

(Aug. 22, 2016) During its current session, which began on August 15, 2016, the National Assembly of Vietnam (NA) discussed proposed legislation on the country’s Guard Force. While a 2005 ordinance gave a general structure to the Guard Force, according to the Vice Chairman of the NA, Do Ba Ty, legislators have now agreed to upgrade the ordinance to a law. (Vietnam: Guard Force Law Under NA Discussion, VOV NEWS (Aug. 15, 2016), Open Source Enterprise online subscription database, No. SER2016081538411867.)

In addition to regular police forces and an army, Vietnam has various paramilitary and militia forces, including “neighborhood guardians.” These groups report either to the Ministry of National Defense or the Ministry of Public Security. (Palash Ghosh, Vietnam: A Police State Where One-In-Six Works for Security Forces, IBT TIMES (Aug. 29, 2013).) The U.S. State Department report on human rights in Vietnam for 2015 noted that “[a]t the commune level, guard forces composed of residents or members of government-affiliated social organizations commonly assisted police.” (Vietnam 2015 Human Rights Report, COUNTRY REPORTS ON HUMAN RIGHTS PRACTICES FOR 2015, U.S. Department of State website (last visited Aug. 22, 2016).)

The draft legislation comprises 29 articles organized in five chapters. Its stated goal is to make the security activities of the guards effective while guaranteeing that the human rights enumerated in the Constitution are upheld. (Vietnam: Guard Force Law Under NA Discussion, supra.) The tasks of the guard force include “helping to protect the [Communist] Party, the State, national security and social order and safety.” (Law on Guard Force to Be Promulgated, VIETNAM.NET (Aug. 15, 2016).)

The NA was reviewing the draft for the first time; according to Ty, more work will be done by the drafting board, in conjunction with relevant government agencies, to prepare for the next time it is considered. (Id.) At the conclusion of the legislative session on August 16, NA Chairwoman Nguyen Thi Kim Ngan said that the committee considering the Law on the Guard Force sent comments on the draft, as well as other government proposals, to the administration. (Vietnam: NA Standing Committee Closes Second Meeting, VOV NEWS (Aug. 16, 2016), Open Source Enterprise online subscription database, No. SER2016081670224411.)