Constitutional Provisions

Article 19 of the 2013 Constitution of Viet Nam provides that:

Everyone has the right to live. Human life is protected by the law. No one shall be illegally deprived of his or her life.

According to Article 20(1):

Everyone shall enjoy the inviolability of the individual and the legal protection of his or her life, health, honour and dignity and is protected against torture, violence, coercion, corporal punishment or any form of treatment harming his or her body and health and offence against honour and dignity. 

Under Article 67 of the Constitution, it is stipulated that:

The State shall build a revolutionary people's Police Force which shall be a well-trained regular army to be gradually modernised and serves as the core of the business of national security and social order, preventing and fighting against crimes. 

The Constitution does not govern use of force by the police in Viet Nam. 

Treaty Adherence

Global Treaties

Adherence to Selected Human Rights Treaties
1966 Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) State Party
ICCPR Optional Protocol 1 Not party
1984 Convention against Torture (CAT) State Party
Competence of CAT Committee to receive individual complaints No
CAT Optional Protocol 1 Not party
Adherence to International Criminal Law Treaties
1998 Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court Not party

Regional Treaties

There is not yet a regional human rights treaty to which South-East Asian nations can adhere, although a non-binding human rights declaration was issued by the Association of South-East Asian Nations (ASEAN) in 2013.

National Legislation

Police Use of Force

Article 24 of Vietnam's 2015 Criminal Code provides that:

1. If violence and infliction of bodily harm to a criminal is the only way to capture him/her, the use of violence in this case does not constitute a criminal offence. 

2. If the bodily harm inflicted by the use of violence is obviously more than necessary, the person who inflicts such damage shall bear criminal responsibility.

Article 127 of the 2015 Code provides that any law enforcement officer "who, in performance of his/her official duties, causes the death of another person due to the use of violence in cases other than those justified by law shall face a penalty of five to ten years' imprisonment". Under Article 137(1):

Any law enforcement officer in performance of his/her official duties who uses violence under circumstances other than those in which infliction of bodily harm is permitted by law or deliberately inflicts bodily harm upon another person and causes 31% - 60% physical disability shall face a penalty of up to 3 years' community sentence or 6-36 months' imprisonment.

Use of Force in Custodial Settings

Under Article 9(1)(a) of the Law on Enforcement of Custody and Temporary Detention, a person held in custody or temporary detention has the right:

To have his/her life, body and property safely protected, to have his/her honour and dignity respected; to be informed of his/her rights and obligations and internal rules of the detention facility.

Article 8 prohibits the following acts:

Torturing and using coercion and corporal punishment; applying cruel, inhuman or degrading forms of treatment or punishment or any other forms that infringe upon lawful rights and interests of persons held in custody or temporary detention.

Police Oversight

There are no independent external police oversight bodies in Vietnam.

Caselaw

Global

Views and Concluding Observations of United Nations Treaty Bodies

In its 2018 Concluding Observations on Vietnam, the Committee against Torture espressed its concern at the excessive use of force and deaths in custody in Vietnam. It also specifically criticised the "reported excessive use of force by the police, including severe ill-treatment and humiliation, during the dispersal of demonstrations in June 2018". It called on Vietnam to:

Ensure that all alleged cases of deaths in custody and complaints of excessive use of force, both in premises of institutions and on the street, are promptly, effectively and impartially investigated by an independent mechanism with no institutional or hierarchical connection between the investigators and alleged perpetrators;

Ensure that alleged perpetrators of torture and ill-treatment and deaths in custody are immediately suspended from duty for the duration of the investigation, particularly when there is a risk that they might otherwise be in a position to repeat the alleged act; and that, if found guilty, ensure that the perpetrators are punished in a manner that is commensurate with the gravity of their acts ...

Take preventive measures, including the establishing an oversight mechanism, to ensure that police officers use force while respecting the principles of necessity and proportionality required by the situation and that they receive mandatory training on the United Nations Basic Principles on the Use of Force and Firearms by Law Enforcement Officials; the Body of Principles for the Protection of All Persons under Any Form of Detention or Imprisonment and on the United Nations Standard Minimum Rules for the Treatment of Prisoners (the Nelson Mandela Rules); ...

Establish an independent police complaints commission with which citizens can file complaints against the police....

Regional

There is no regional human rights court in the ASEAN region.

National

There are no publicly available details of any prosecutions of police or prison officers for unlawful use of force.

Downloads

2013 Constitution of Vietnam (English translation)

2013 Constitution of Vietnam (Vietnamese original)

2015 Criminal Code of Vietnam (English translation)

2015 Criminal Code of Vietnam (Vietnamese original)

2016 Penal Code

Committee against Torture Concluding Observations on Vietnam (2018)