National Assembly reviews execution methods

The relative merits of various forms of capital punishment - firing squads, lethal injections or even the electric chair - were debated by National Assembly deputies here on May 24 morning.

The relative merits of various forms of capital punishment - firing squads, lethal injections or even the electric chair - were debated by National Assembly deputies here on May 24 morning.

The law covering death sentences, Article 56 of the Law on Enforcement of Criminal Verdicts, drew their special attention.

They discussed the most humane way of execution, especially the use of lethal injections, firing squads or a combination of both.

At present in Vietnam , the death sentence is carried out by a firing squad.

According to the National Assembly Standing Committee, the use of firing squad puts undue pressure on law enforcement officers and the families of prisoners.

In her report, Justice Committee chairwoman Le Thi Thu Ba argued that legal injection was widely used in many countries.

"Lethal injections cause less pain, are easier to carry out, less costly and less psychologically damaging to the executors," said Ba.

However, she said that at least a year would be needed for law enforcement officials to work out procedures for lethal injections before submitting them to the Government for approval. She asked the National Assembly to delay the enforcement date of the law until July 1, 2011.

Deputy Dang Huyen Thai from Hanoi supported Ba's idea, but asked the law drafting committee to be more specific about the injection procedures.

Deputy Nguyen Huu Nhon from the Cuu Long (Mekong) Delta province of Dong Thap came up with another option – a condemned person's choice of using an electric chair.

Deputy Pham Xuan Truong from the Red river delta province of Thai Binh insisted on the use of firing squad.

" This is a good way to warn other people," said Truong. "To lessen psychological damage to executors, why don't we use automatic rifles?" he added.

The law makers also discussed the release of the body of an executed criminal to family members.

Head of the NA the Ombudsman committee, TranThe Vuong, and deputy Tran Ba Kieu from northern Hai Phong port city, said the body of an executed criminal should be released to family members.

"This is totally in conformity to Vietnamese spiritual tradition," they said.

However, Kieu said the dead bodies of gangsters should not be released.

The draft Law on Commercial Arbitration, expected to give prominence to option-based rules in settling disputes and litigation through commercial arbitrators, was also discussed by the National Assembly.

According to the National Assembly Standing Committee's (NASC) explanation, unlike civil suits, the settlement by arbitration would be done based on the negotiations through arbitration and dialogue. Therefore, the regulations on arbitration among disputers should be optional, as the disputers would have the right to decide on that.

The president of the Vietnam Lawyers Association, Pham Quoc Anh, however, voiced his support for the involvement of the people's court in the arbitration procedures.

"The court's support would help enforce the arbitrators' judgement," said Anh. "The arbitrators' performance cannot be effective without support from the court."

Other deputies, Nguyen Dang Trung and Tran Du Lich from HCM City , had different points of view that arbitration should not be done in public at all.

"Arbitration, unlike a court judgement, should be done in order to reach agreement, not create bad publicity for the two sides."

Deputy Ngo Quang Xuan from southern Dong Thap Province expressed his agreement, saying that the arbitrators' activities should be voluntary and not to be open to the public.

The NASC said that regulations are in agreement with the Model Law on International Commercial Arbitration, which was prepared and adopted by the United Nations Commission on International Trade Law in 1985, and many other countries.

The Ordinance on Commercial Arbitration was issued in 2003. The ordinance and its related regulations have established a much stronger legal foundation for resolving disputes through arbitration in Vietnam.

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