Intl’ Experts Share Experience on Child Justice Laws

Vietnam takes significant steps toward a comprehensive child justice law


A workshop was organised in Hanoi on August 31 by the Supreme People’s Court of Vietnam and the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF) with the support of the European Union Justice and Legal Empowerment Programme (EU JULE) to learn from the experience of countries that have adopted child justice laws, VNA reported.

By sharing international and regional experiences and best practices, the workshop served as a forum to discuss strategic measures to improve justice for minors and to develop an outline for a comprehensive child justice law.

Chief Justice Nguyen Hoa Binh speaks at the event. Source: UNICEF Vietnam
Chief Justice Nguyen Hoa Binh speaks at the event. Source: UNICEF Vietnam

The ideas and recommendations of experts and participants are important contributions for the Supreme People’s Court to consider and propose the National Assembly Standing Committee to include the juvenile justice law project in the 2023 Law and Ordinance Development Programme, said Chief Justice Nguyen Hoa Binh.

In recent years, the Government of Vietnam has made considerable effort to reform legislation pertaining to justice for minors. However, special handling measures for minors in conflict with the law are still scattered across the Penal Code, Criminal Procedure Code, and Law on Handling of Administrative Violations. This results in fragmentation and challenges in ensuring coherent, effective and efficient implementation.

“UNICEF is fully engaged with this significant step toward a comprehensive law on justice for minors. We applaud the adoption of a holistic approach to introduce strategic changes for increased access to justice for all minors in conflict with the law, as well as victims and witnesses of crime,” said Lesley Miller, UNICEF deputy representative in Vietnam.

Recognizing the unique vulnerabilities of minors, the Convention on the Rights of the Child requires the establishment of a separate system with a specialized approach when working with minors in conflict with the law. Central to such a system is having a comprehensive law on justice for minors, as many countries have adopted, including most ASEAN countries.

“A comprehensive law on justice for minors is the cornerstone of a child-friendly justice system, outlining a distinct set of principles, objectives, procedures, and services that have been specially adapted to minors. The European Union will continue to support Vietnam with this effort,” said Thomas Wiersing, chargé d’affaires of the Delegation of the European Union to Vietnam.

Participants attend the international workshop on child justice laws in Hanoi on August 31. Photo: UNICEF Vietnam
Participants attend the international workshop on child justice laws in Hanoi on August 31. Photo: UNICEF Vietnam

International keynote speakers, experts from relevant committees of the National Assembly, line ministries, professional and mass organisations, supreme and provincial courts, and development agencies participated in this workshop.

Issues discussed included the need of an effective inter-agency collaboration and coordination; child- and gender-sensitive handling of minors; a coherent continuum of sanctions and measures; the role of social workers in all stages of the child justice procedures; and the development of social welfare services for community-based rehabilitation of minors.

According to the UN, globally, each year, one billion children experience violence in various forms. The survey on Sustainable Development Goals indicators on children and women in Vietnam for the 2020-2021 period showed that more than 72% of children between the ages of 10 and 14 experienced violent discipline. In which, 39% of children suffered from mental violence, 47% from physical abuse, 20% from sexual abuse, and 29% from neglect.

Meanwhile, a research revealed that 21.4% of adolescent girls and 7.9% of adolescent boys reported having had suicidal thoughts. Another study found that 5.8 percent of adolescents reported having attempted suicide.

Hannah Nguyen