HOA BINH - The proposal to reduce the number of crimes subject to the death penalty in an amended Penal Code sparked heated debates at a conference held yesterday in southern Hoa Binh City.
The National Assembly's Judicial Committee had proposed the amendment and its deputy head, Duong Ngoc Nguu, said the number of crimes subject to the death penalty in the amended Penal Code would be reduced from 44 to 22, with plans to lower it even further to 15.
Deputy Minister Dinh Trung Tung from the Ministry of Justice said the death penalty will only apply in cases involving crimes of extraordinary brutality and illegal drug dealings.
While agreeing with the government's effort to cut back on the use of the death penalty, Deputy Chief of the Police Department Lt. General Nguyen Phong Hoa argued that further consideration should be given to other crimes, such as drug trafficking.
"The situation is dire on the border front. Some nights, we get reports of up to 60 drug trafficking operations. Traffickers in these cases were armed and ready to open fire on law-enforcement forces," the deputy chief said.
Minors, pregnant women, mothers of children aged under three and elderly people aged 70 or above were not to be subjected to capital punishment, he said.
The amended Penal Code aims to remove the death penalty for an additional seven types of crime other than corruption.
Associate Professor Dr. Nguyen Tat Vien, a member of the Steering Committee for Judicial Reform, said, "In light of rampant corruption across the country, maintaining the death penalty for crimes related to corruption and bribery is necessary."
The Supreme People's Court Deputy Chief Justice Nguyen Son agreed and noted that the move confirmed the Government and the Party's resolute stance in the fight against corruption.
The amended Penal Code also proposed the criminalisation of additional activities, including manipulation of public opinion polling, violations of freedom of speech and freedom of the press and obstruction of the citizens' right to access information and carry out peaceful protests.