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Communist Party of Vietnam to be capable to lead a successful development of a law-ruled State of the Socialist Republic of Vietnam

(PTOJ) - When mentioning the development of a law-ruled State in Vietnam, there are many opinions that it is impossible to develop a law-ruled state in case of one Communist Party ruling the nation and if it is possible, that state will not fully meet the international standards? This article affirms that, despite the difficulties of a country with only one ruling Communist Party, Vietnam can develop a law-ruled state under the common standards. Furthermore, Communist Party of Vietnam is fully capable and needs to lead this process.

Communist Party of Vietnam to be capable to lead a successful development of a law-ruled State of the Socialist Republic of Vietnam - Photo: dangcongsan.vn

Recently, in the process of collecting opinions on the strategy for building and perfecting a law-ruled state of the Socialist Republic of Vietnam by 2030, with a vision to 2045, there are still many doubts about the possibility of success of this strategy. It is stated that, theoretically, a state cannot be a law-ruled state without “the separation of three powers” nor competition between political parties in the election; those are the factors that go together, becoming the criteria of a law-ruled state(1). These opinions argue that the monopoly in leadership of the only party in Vietnam is completely opposite to the nature of the law-ruled state. They cite the ranking of law-ruled states in 2021 by the World Justice Project surveying 139 countries and territories across the world to confirm that all countries led by one ruling party are ranked at the bottom of the table. Vietnam is only ranked 88/139 with a score close to the world average(2).

Indeed, it is hard to affirm theoretically and convincingly that under the current political system, the Vietnamese state is a law-ruled one. Therefore, the decisive factor here is the practice which proves that the state and the political system under the leadership of the Communist Party is capable of complying with the Constitution and the laws, organizing and operating in the framework of the Constitution and the law, that is, ensuring the nature of a law-ruled state. This article demonstrates such an approach.

First of all, when discussing a law-ruled state, we acknowledge its core is the supremacy of law in relation to the state in particular and society in general. It is the decisive influence of the constitution and law over the organization and operation of the state that ensures the highest purpose of the state, which is to respect and protect human rights and freedoms.

But unlike in the West, we understand that the division of power and control among state agencies is a solution among many solutions with the aim of not allowing any agency or individual to overstep the provisions of the law, to infringe on the Constitutional and statutory freedoms of people. The political competition in elections is only a solution to ensure that state power is vested in individuals who are able to apply it in the most correct way and do not abuse or to infringe on the freedoms and legitimate interests of organizations and citizens.

Therefore, when assessing the level of rule of law of the Socialist state in Vietnam today, as well as its continuation of development and improvement, the following core questions need to be answered: Firstly, Is the Constitution and laws in Vietnam really the people’s common will to ensure the “natural rights” of people, does the Constitution and laws fully cover and regulate the activities of all organizations and citizens? Secondly, how is the institution and the reality of the assignment, coordination and control among agencies, is it enough to prevent the legislative, executive and judicial authorities from making faults, particularly to prevent colluding and covering up of corruption and violations on human rights by empowered agencies and individuals? Thirdly, is the judicial system impartial and objective enough in adjudicating all powerful individuals, regardless of their standing, including those in the highest positions in the Party?

Finally, it is also necessary to answer this question: in the development of a Socialist law-ruled state for nearly 30 years (since the Party issued Resolution No. 08-NQ/HNTW dated January 23rd, 1995 of the 8th Plenum of the 7th Central Committee of the Communist Party of Vietnam on “Continuing to develop and improve the State of the Socialist Republic of Vietnam, focusing on one-step administrative reform”) what is the role of the Communist Party of Vietnam? What does the Party need to do in order not to prevent it, but on the contrary to be a factor in who shall lead, promote and improve the Law-ruled state?

The reality shows the following:

1. The degree of perfection of the law for human rights

It must be affirmed that since the promulgation of the 1992 Constitution (Amendment and supplement to some articles in 2001), followed by the 2013 Constitution, Vietnam’s legal system has undergone a change in its quality. The State of Vietnam has promulgated, amended and supplemented a series of laws directly or indirectly related to human rights and citizens’ rights, in accordance with international conventions and treaties to which Vietnam has acceded or signed. The most important ones are the Penal Code, Criminal Procedure Code, Civil Code, Civil Procedure Code, Labour Code, Law on Complaints and Denunciations, Company Law, Law on land, Law on Social Insurance, Law on Press, Law on Publication, Law on Access to Information, Law on Cyber-security, etc..

The programs of overall administrative reform (including institutions, apparatus, civil servants, finance and technology) over the past few decades have helped the relationship between the State and its citizens change towards serving the State, creating and further developing.

The National Assembly has promulgated and amended many laws related to the organization and operation of the state apparatus, for civil servants and public employees with provisions on the rights, responsibilities, obligations and action not allowed to perform. These include the Law on Cadres and Civil servants, the Law on Public Employees, the Law on Bidding, the Law on Public Investment and the Law on Anti-corruption. The Government, the Prime Minister, the ministries, the People’s Committees of the provinces have reviewed, revised and eliminated many administrative procedures that cause troubles for organizations and people.

These institutional innovations have brought practical results, have been recognized internationally and welcomed by enterprises and people throughout the country. In the period 2015-2020, Vietnam was promoted in international rankings of investment environment, innovation and e-Government. For example, Vietnam:

- Ranked 70th in Business Environment, 20 places higher compared to that in 2015 (according to the announcement of World Bank - WB, 2019);

- Ranked 67th in 4.0 Global Competitiveness, up 10 higher compared to that in 2018 (according to the announcement of World Economic Forum (WEF), 2019);

- Ranked 63rd in Tourism competitiveness, 12 places higher compared to that in 2015 (as announced by WEF, 2019);

- Ranked 39th in Logistics efficiency, 25 places higher compared to that in 2016 (according to the WB’s announcement, 2018);

- Ranked 42nd in Global Innovation, 17 places higher compared to that in 2016 (according to the announcement of the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO), 2020);

- Ranked 86th in E-Government, 3 places higher compared to that in 2016 (as announced by the United Nations, 2020);

- The ranking on Sustainable development increased by 34 places, from 88th in 2016 to 49th in 2020;

- The Human Development Index (HDI) continued to improve, reaching 0.704 points, ranking 117 out of 189 countries, completing the first step to be included in the world’s high ranking.

Local rankings by PAPI (Provincial administrative procedures index), PAR Index (Public administrative reform), SIPAS (Satisfaction index of Public administrative services) also show the progress of provinces and cities in the past 10 years.

The WJP’s 2021 Rule of law index report also shows that Vietnam is ranked higher than some multi-party countries in the G20 of developed countries such as Mexico, Turkey, etc.

2. The coordination and mutual control between authorities in order to prevent wrong decisions, corrupt acts, violations of people’s legitimate rights and interests by authorities and persons who are competent and have high position in the state apparatus.

The Law on Organization of the National Assembly, the Law on Organization of Government, the Law on Organization of Local Government, the Law on Organization of People’s Courts, the Law on Organization of People’s Procuracy, the Law on Auditing, the Law on Inspection, the Law on Anti- Corruption and the Prevention and decrees on organizational structure, functions and duties of ministries and authorities of the Government have stipulated more specifically and clearly the jurisdiction of the state apparatus in general and the jurisdiction and relationship among state agencies in anti-corruption in particular.

In recent years the National Assembly has demonstrated more clearly its position and role as the highest state authority as stipulated in the Constitution. Through questioning activities during its sessions, supervisory delegations, and meetings of the National Assembly Standing Committee, many advances have been performed in supreme supervision over the activities of Government agencies in implementing the policies, laws, programs and resolutions of the National Assembly. Thereby, many limitations and shortcomings have been detected and requirements have been set for the Government and its agencies to amend, supplement and improve the apparatus and institutions.

Following the 1992 Constitution, the Law on Public Investment, the Law on Environmental Protection, the Law on Planning, the Law on Land, the Law on Minerals, the Law on Accounting, the Law on Securities, the Law on Prices, and many other laws were enacted, amended and supplemented. On the one hand, these Laws create more and more favorable conditions for organizations and individuals to produce and do business in accordance with market mechanisms. On the other hand, such Laws more clearly define the jurisdiction, responsibility for management and coordination of the state management authorities, creating a legal framework to inspect, supervise, prosecute and indict cases of violations committed by individuals and organizations, including civil servants in the state apparatus.

Every year, the State audit and inspection agencies have discovered many errors in financial and public assets management, submitting reports and recommendations to authorities, ministries, localities, state groups and corporations to promptly perform remedies. Cases of violation of the law that need to be solved by the law have been transferred to lawful investigation, prosecution and adjudication agencies. Typical cases are violations at Vietnam Maritime Corporation, Vietnam Shipbuilding Industry Group, Thai Nguyen Iron and Steel Corporation, Saigon Beer - Alcohol - Beverage Joint Stock Corporation, Vietnam Oil and Gas Group, the Ministry of Information and Communications, the Ministry of Industry and Trade, etc. including high-ranking officials being investigated and prosecuted.

In the field of law formulation and promulgation of legal documents, every year, the Ministry of Justice, and the provincial and municipal Departments of Justice have submitted recommendations to the Government and People’s Committees of provinces and cities to eliminate many documents which are inconsistent to the authority, overlapping, and contradicting each other, helping administrative reform to make progress and helping to improve the investment and business environment as well as raising the level of satisfaction of people and enterprises.

3. The judicial system in protecting justice and fighting against crime

Vietnam has carried out judicial reforms and made significant progresses in the organization of the court system, in proceedings procedures and in organizing the trial towards the direction of more public, democratic and independent trials.

The trials of law violations, particularly corruption cases committed by high-ranking individuals in state authorities, including the civil and armed forces in the last 10 years have been appreciated by the society. The trials were held democratically in public under the law, delivering objective and accurate judgments, allowing the defendants to be convinced and obedient.

Many cases of people being wrongly convicted after many years have been reviewed, vindicated, apologized and compensated publicly by the courts. For example, on January 13th, 2021, at the People’s Committee of Lien Trach commune, the People’s Court of Bo Trach district, Quang Binh province held a public meeting to apologize and correct the judgements to 5 people wrongly convicted in a case which occurred 34 years earlier(3). On the morning of March 24th, 2021, the People’s Court of Binh Thanh District, Ho Chi Minh City held an apology session for Mr. Bui Minh Ly, born in 1989, former Secretary of the Youth Union of Trung Hamlet, Dong Thanh Commune, Can Giuoc District, Long An province at the headquarters of Dong Thanh Commune People’s Committee - where Mr. Ly’s family lives, in the presence of the local authorities and people(4), etc.

These events show that our judicial system is increasingly exercising its powers under the Constitution and the law in protecting justice and fighting against crime in accordance with the motto of promptitude, severity, prevention of any criminal from being overlooked, avoidance of wrong judgement and the implementation of the common principle of progressive justice that everyone is equal to the law.

4. The crucial role of the Communist Party of Vietnam in developing a law-ruled state of Socialist Republic of Vietnam

To gain the above-mentioned positive results, the leadership of the Party needs to be acknowledged. By the lines, undertakings and policies expressed in the resolutions of the Party Congress, the Central Committee and the Politburo; by the leadership of the National Assembly Party Committee, Government Party Personnel Committee, Court Party Personnel Committee, People’s Procuracy, Party Personnel Committee of ministries, departments, sectors, etc. and party members who are in leadership positions of those authorities, the legislative, executive and judicial works have gained much progress, showing more clearly the rule of law of the State.

Contrary to concerns about the Party’s cover-up, a lack of thoroughness or inability to handle law violations committed by cadres and party members, particularly high-ranking cadres in the Party, since the Steering Committee for Anti- Corruption and prevention was transferred to be operated by the Politburo and the Secretariat, directly headed by the General Secretary, the anti-corruption work has moved to a new stage that is more scientific, methodical and resolute. As a result, a series of cases related to high-standing officials who were involve in corruption were put under a spotlight and referred to trial.

Closing the 9th Plenum of the 12th Central Committee (December 2018), after reviewing the disciplinary actions against senior officials who violated the law, General Secretary Nguyen Phu Trong said: “It’s heartbreaking! But for the sake of the strictness of Party discipline, the respect for the law of the State, the purity, strength and prestige of the Party and the will of the people, we must and shall continue to do so in the coming time”(5).

The remarkable progress in the practice of developing a Socialist law-ruled state in our country allows us to affirm that the Communist Party of Vietnam is fully capable of leading the development of a law-ruled state up to international standards. The important lessons learned are as follows: There is a close connection between the development of a law-ruled state and the development of the Party, between the development and implementation of the law and that of the Party’s charter and regulations needs to be created. The proper implementation of the Party’s guidelines and policies as well as compliance with the Party’s regulations and disciplines does not prevent but on the contrary, helps to successfully develop a law-ruled state.

Unlike in many multi-party countries, in Vietnam, under the condition of one party leading and ruling, the development mode of a law-ruled state in Vietnam cannot be spontaneous, rather is must be voluntary, that is, goals, plans, measures, etc. are considered and calculated by the Party in accordance with each development stage of the country. Implementing the Resolution of the 13th Party Congress, the Politburo issued a Resolution on Formulating a strategic project to develop and improve the law-ruled state of the Socialist Republic of Vietnam by 2030, with a vision to 2045. This project has been formulated and opinions from agencies, sectors, levels and localities for completing such project are being collected.

In order to complete and successfully implement this Strategy, the Party has been continuing to lead in the following areas:

Firstly, to lead the ideological and theoretical work on the Socialist law-ruled state.

First of all, it is necessary to make the whole Party clearly aware of the law-ruled state, recognize the supreme role of the Constitution and the law over all activities of society, particularly over state authorities and Party organizations.

The issue of a law-ruled state is closely related to the the issues of democracy and of human rights and shall be resolved under the point of view that both democracy and human rights are the goal and the driving force for developing a law-ruled state. A law-ruled state cannot be discussed without reference to democracy and human rights. In contrast, democracy and human rights cannot be discussed without reference to a law-ruled state. It is a whole, a complex mixture of problems that needs to be solved synchronously. Therefore, the Party needs to lead the propaganda and ideological education work to reach a common awareness of the importance and necessity of a law-ruled state in the building and developing of the country towards the socialist orientation outlined in the Platform of the Party.

The Party leads the work of theoretical research, summarizing the practice of a law-ruled state in a respectful spirit, listening to opinions from many different angles, including those that are “difficult to hear”, or “unpleasant”. Many discussion forums, open debates and sharing of opinions without prejudice are necessary.

The Ho Chi Minh National Academy of Politics should pay more attention to educating and fostering a sense of respect for the law, as well as leadership and management skills in accordance with the principles of the Law-ruled state for the high and medium-level cadres of the political system.

Secondly, to lead the work of developing and improving the law

Developing and improving a law-ruled state is a process that is both scientific and political; both complying with the objective requirements of human social development and at the same time complying with the subjective will of the ruling forces in each country. However, the scientific and objective requirements shall be considered as the most important one, because only then will society be more and more progressive. Some issues to be addressed include:

- Legally institutionalizing the political responsibility of the ruling Communist Party. The form of political responsibility is not just a slogan, rather it needs to specifically be performed in practice.

In Vietnam, the Party performs its leadership both through the collective Party committee and through the individual Party member. The personalization in approach to administrative or criminal responsibilities which has been been performed so far, is the right direction for developing a law-ruled state. For the collective, the political responsibilities of the Party committee towards the local people needs to be further legalized and realized. For example, we should consider the option of stipulating that the Provincial People’s Council cast a vote of confidence on the collective leadership of the provincial Party Committee, or with the Standing Committee of the Provincial Party Committee, the Standing Committee of the Provincial Party Committee on their leadership activities? In the case of low prestige, the collective party committee shall be subject to a certain form of responsibility, or even be dissolved by the superior committee to elect a new one.

- Further concretizing the relationship of “assignment, coordination and mutual control in the implementation of legislative, executive and judicial powers”. The control of the National Assembly over the Government, the Court, and the People’s Procuracy is clear in theory and has been stipulated in the Constitution, Law on Organization of the National Assembly, Law on Organization of the People’s Courts, and Law on Organization of People’s Procuracy. However, the Government’s control over the National Assembly and the control of the Court and the Procuracy over the Government and the National Assembly are not specified in theory, and are even more unclear in legal terms.

From practice, it is the time to assert that, although the Government does not have the power equal to that of the National Assembly, it shall have some certain jurisdictions in the National Assembly. Such jurisdictions shall be powerful enough to prevent possible mistakes in resolutions and decisions issued by the National Assembly and in laws passed by the National Assembly. For example, it may be provided that if a majority of the Government members vote against all or part of a law or resolution passed by the National Assembly, the National Assembly shall consider, amend and perform a re-vote to such law or resolution. This is very necessary because the Vietnam National Assembly is unicameral, the number of not-in-charge deputies (who do not work in the Government apparatus) accounts for a high proportion of deputies. In cases with deputies who are former cadres, civil servants and public employees in localities, they have encountered infeasible laws that are not close to reality and lack an inappropriate vision of time. They will have to experience to makes sure these laws shall be amended and replaced as soon as possible.

Thirdly, to lead the law enforcement organization and social management under the law

First of all, the law enforcement organization and social management in compliance with the law is mainly a function of the executive system, including the Government and People’s Committees at all levels. In recent years, practice shows that the violations of the law in some ministries, the People’s Committees of provinces and cities are also violations of the Party Personnel Committees, members of the Party Personnel Committee and the Party committees of the provincial People’s Committees of the departments and agencies directly under the People’s Committee. This raises the question of how to strengthen the leadership of law enforcement organizations and social management in compliance with the law?

Experience shows that, in terms of the Party, the leadership, direction, urging and correction of the higher-level committees over the Party Personnel Committee of the People’s Committee at lower levels and the committees of agencies under the People’s Committee need to be strengthened. The same is true in terms of the government; the inspection, urging, and correction of the head of the superior executive agency over the head of the lower executive agency (for example, Prime Minister, Deputy Prime Minister over the Chairman of the People’s Committees of provinces and cities under central) in implementing programs, plans and tasks for socio-economic development and law enforcement in the locality.

Fourthly, to lead the inspection, examination, prosecution, trial and judicial reform

In addition to the achievements, the system of inspection authorities also has many limitations, weaknesses, shortcomings, even violations of the law in implementing their responsibilities and rights. Many inspection conclusions are not really objective, making the subjects not “convinced and obedient”. Many inspectors take advantage of their authority to accept bribes.

In order to develop and improve a law-ruled state, inspection and investigation activities from the central to local levels shall be corrected and strengthened in the same drastic spirit as the Party Central Committee, the Politburo, the Secretariat and the Party Central Committee, the Central Inspection Committee has been doing.

The Party’s leadership method over the courts needs to be further reformed, ensuring the principle of judicial independence, avoiding interference of, or taking advantage of, the Party committee’s name in the adjudication activities of the courts in general, and judges and people’s jurors in particular.

The Central Committee has issued Regulations on what actions that Party members are not allowed to do, including activities related to acts of interference in the judicial field. Party committees at all levels and Party committees at judicial agencies shall strictly comply with these regulations.

Thus, contrary to doubts or denials, the development of a law-ruled state up to international standards has been being carried out in Vietnam, gaining remarkable results. Those processes and results are closely tied to the leadership of Communist Party of Vietnam.

The results from practice allow us to believe that under the conditions of a leading Communist Party, Vietnam can build a law-ruled state because the Communist Party of Vietnam, with its nature of the working class and the nation, with scientific, revolutionary and humanistic thinking, and the bravery of more than 90 years leading the country to win victories, overcoming many seemingly insurmountable difficult circumstances, has been and will be continues to prove that the Party has no other private interests other than the interests of the working class, the working people and the whole Vietnamese nation, and that no matter how difficult it is, a Socialist law-ruled state can be developed successfully in Vietnam n

__________________

Received: July 23rd, 2022; Revised: July 24th, 2022; Accepted for Publication: August 22nd, 2022.

 

Endnotes:

(1) Refer to Konrad-Adenauer-Sfiftung: Rule of law, National Political Publishing House, Hanoi, 2002.

(2) https://worldjusticeproject.org/sites/default/files/documents/WJP-INDEX-21.pdf

(3) Online Labour Newspaper, November 13th, 2021.

(4) Online Law Newspaper dated March 24th, 2021.

(5) Online newspaper of the Communist Party of Vietnam, December 27th, 2018.

ASSOC. PROF., DR. VU HOANG CONG

Institute of Political Science,

Ho Chi Minh National Academy of Politics

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