JusticeMaker Oanh Completes Juvenile Justice Survey
Posted by hoangoanh at December 14th, 2010
IBJ JusticeMaker Fellow 2010 Oanh Hoang NGO has authored an extensive survey on the state of Vietnam’s juvenile justice system. Basing her research on the most recently published government statistics (from 2009), and using her vantage point as an instructor with the Judicial Academy of Vietnam (the national body established to provide education for judges, lawyers, prosecutors), Oanh has unique insight into both the successes and shortcomings of Vietnam’s legal methodology for dealing with juvenile offenders.
The 2009 Juvenile Justice Survey for Hanoi provides an insider look at Vietnam’s juvenile justice process by reporting on several factors, including the number of arrests, referrals to probation departments, petitions filed, dispositions for juvenile rehabilitation and the processing of juvenile cases in adult courts. Translated by Oanh, this information was gathered from law enforcement agencies, probation departments and the official Vietnamese People’s Procuracy and Probation Statistical System. Other sources, such as the internet or direct interviews were also taken into account.
In Vietnam, the perpetrator is considered a “juvenile offender” if he/she has not yet reached the age of 18 when the crime was committed. There are additional categories beyond this umbrella classification: alleged offenders between 16 – 18 bear a different level of culpability than those between 14 – 16, and suspected perpetrators who are younger than 14 when the crime is committed are in a separate category altogether. Although there is a dedicated system for processing juvenile offenders, there are no dedicated courts for juveniles, and all cases are processed in an adult court.
Cases of juvenile crime have been worryingly on the rise in Vietnam, much of it gang-related. In 2009, there were 7000 criminal acts nationwide perpetrated by youths under the age of 14, accounting for 70% of all juvenile crime in Vietnam. In total, there were 10,000 crimes committed by 15,000 offenders aged less than 18 years old. These numbers reflect a growing trend in Vietnam, as the frequency of juvenile offenses is increasing, while average age of offenders is decreasing. Statistics compiled for the Vietnamese Ministry of Labour, Invalids and Social Affairs’ Seminar on National Action Program for Children 2011-2020 revealed that in the first half of 2010, 60 murders and 200 robberies were attributed to juveniles.
The Vietnamese government is aware of the gravity of the situation and has been dedicating resources toward battling this phenomenon. On 1 September 2009, the government issued the Child Care and Protection Act, to be implemented by the Ministry of Labour, Invalids and Social Affairs. They subsequently drafted the Child National Program Action (2011-2020) to create equal development opportunities for juveniles and facilitate the implementation of children’s rights. Significantly, the program focuses on three specific areas: improvement of the juvenile justice system, implementation of the United Nations’ Convention on the Rights of the Child and application of Mother-Child protection laws.