Welcoming Remarks by Patricia Barandun at the dialogue on the revision of the law on Organization of People’s Courts

21 Feb 2014

Event:   Dialogue on the revision of the law on Organization of People’s Courts
Venue:  Ho Chi Minh City

Distinguished Chief Justice of the Supreme People’s Court Truong Hoa Binh,
Deputy chivies justice of the Supreme People’s Court,
Members of the Council of Judges of the Supreme People's Court,
Deputies of the National Assembly, representatives of the justice agencies and scientists,

Good morning and thank you all for coming:

UNDP is pleased to support this dialogue on the revision of the law on Organization of People’s Courts. The changes to Viet Nam’s Constitution voted into effect by the National Assembly in November 2013 requires many laws to now be amended;  the Law on the Organization of People’s Courts is of particular consequence when considering the influence the judiciary has on the lives of all Vietnamese people.  Every day, judges make decisions in criminal cases, in family and marriage matters, in civil and administrative issues, and in many other matters that directly touch the lives of the citizenry.  This reason alone underscores the importance of having a well-drafted Law on the Organization of the People’s Court.   

Quyền tư pháp is the responsibility of the court system and it is most valuable to society when it works independently and free from external influence. The 2013 Constitution highlights this basic tenet of governance by emphasizing that it is strictly prohibited for any person, body or organization to try to affect the outcome of a judicial decision.  This theory of independence is the foundation of a judiciary.  How the Court is organized will have a powerful role in insulating judges from outside interference.  The draft Law on the Organization of People’s Courts being discussed today contains important measures that give more autonomy and control to the Courts over their administration and adjudicative functions at all levels.  This is a welcome development.  An independent court system means having judges that are not concerned that they will be somehow punished or discriminated against for making decisions in conformity with the law, even if it is unpopular to some segment of society or to another agency of the Government.  As re-stated in the 2013 Constitution, judges are required to decide cases based only on the law, and not because they want to obtain good favor.

One of the major desired outcomes for a re-organization of the court system is to raise the confidence of the public and private sectors that the courts are capable of providing meaningful and responsive services.  For example, when a business person is interested in the rehabilitation of a factory in Viet Nam to expand their industry, it is important for them to believe that if there is a legal dispute with a supplier or a builder, the courts can adjudicate the matter responsibly, quickly and without improper influence. UNDP welcomes the opportunity to work collaboratively with the Supreme People’s Court with its efforts to strengthen the role of the judiciary, by among other things, sharing best international practices from other countries who have gone through the process of re-organizing their court systems to be more responsive to the needs of its citizens and its enterprises.

I understand that the subject matter of today’s workshop is highly technical, but fortunately we have terrific and very enlightened legal and justice experts in attendance to present their thoughts on the details of the proposed Law.  I am excited to hear all the ideas that will be discussed, and know that I will learn very much from today’s event.

Thank you all again for coming and for allowing UNDP to work with you on this important law.