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The People's Court promotes its achievements and make efforts to successfully implement the Resolution of the 13th Party Congress

(PTOJ) - Over the years, implementing the Resolution of the 13thCongress, the Party's resolutions on judicial reform, the National Assembly's resolutions, the people's court system has been innovative and creative, made constant efforts, drastically implemented many breakthrough solutions, successfully accomplished the tasks assigned by the Party, State and people. The article clarifies the achievements and orientations for judicial reform in the coming time.

The Supreme People's Court in Hanoi - Source: vnanet.vn

1. Achievements

Accomplish adjudication tasks with increasingly high quality

In the 2016-2020 term, the people’s court system completed and exceeded important targets and requirements assigned by the National Assembly with high quality. The courts received 2,433,631 cases and resolved 2,375,983 cases, reaching 97.6%. The adjudication quality continued to be assured with many improvements. The annual percentage of judgments and decisions that were canceled or corrected due to subjective reasons all reached the target set by the National Assembly’s resolutions, below 1.5%. The adjudication rate of criminal cases reached 99.5%, civil cases reached 97.3% and administrative cases reached 89.3%; exceeded the target set by the National Assembly’s resolutions. The adjudication of criminal cases ensured the right person, the right crime, and the law, so that no case of unjust conviction of innocent people occurred; civil and administrative cases were resolved in an objective and lawful manner.

The courts strictly tried 7,463 serious and complicated corruption, position, economic cases, with 14,540 defendants and applied penalties commensurate with the nature and seriousness of the offence; were strict with those who instigate, lead or abuse their positions to appropriate State property. Measures to seize, temporarily seize, distrain property, and freeze accounts to recover tens of thousands of billions of dong were applied in accordance with the law. The judgments were issued in accordance with the law, showing the seriousness but also humanity, highly appreciated by the people and supported by the public.

The People’s Courts at all levels presided over and coordinated with the Police and the Procuracy of the same level to review the files to submit to the President for decisions on amnesty ahead of time to release 21,324 prisoners who were serving prison sentences; 231 people who were suspended from serving prison sentences and 19 people who were temporarily suspended from serving prison sentences were eligible for amnesty. Implementing the President’s decision on amnesty guaranteed the tightness, publicity, transparency, fairness and lawfulness. Procedures for considering applications for commutation of death sentence were carefully considered by the Supreme People’s Court, ensuring to be complete, grounded and in accordance with the law.

Perfect institutions and laws

The Supreme People’s Court presided over the development of 09 draft laws and 09 draft ordinances, institutionalized the Party’s viewpoints and policies on building a socialist rule of law state as well as the 2013 Constitution’s provisions on the exercise of judicial power of the courts. Draft laws and ordinances prepared by the Supreme People’s Court were highly feasible, met the requirements of judicial reform tasks on schedule and with quality assurance. In particular, the Supreme People’s Court developed and submitted to the National Assembly for approval the draft Law on Mediation and Dialogue at Court. This is a mechanism to resolve disputes peacefully between the parties, applied very effectively in many countries without going to trial, saving social resources, bringing real benefits to the people. The law has been put into effect and has begun to bring about positive results.

The Council of Judges of the Supreme People’s Court issued 49 resolutions, the Chief Justice of the Supreme People’s Court issued 05 circulars; The Supreme People’s Court presided over and coordinated with interdisciplinary agencies to sign and issue 17 joint circulars to guide the uniform application of the law, and to remove practical obstacles for procedural agencies. The Chief Justice of the Supreme People’s Court published 43 case precedents as a source of legislation to fill in gaps in the law that have not been adjusted or clearly defined. Although the development of case precedents in Vietnam is still in the early stages, some were highly appreciated by the Chief Justices of the Supreme People’s Courts of many countries. Starting from this term, a new era has been opened when judges have formed skills in applying case precedents in trial as a global trend. In fact, to date, there have been more than 1,000 court judgments at all levels citing case precedents for trial.

Renovate the organizational apparatus and personnel work

As soon as the National Assembly passed the Law on Organization of the People’s Courts, the Supreme People’s Court established high-level People’s Courts in the model of 4-level courts; exercised jurisdiction in accordance with the procedural law. Up to now, the operation of 04 levels of courts has been stable and in order, and brought into play the effect of the new model of court organization, ensuring high specialization. In addition, the Supreme People’s Court reorganized the specialized courts at the provincial people’s courts in the spirit of the Resolution of the 6th Central Committee of the XII term and established 38 new family and juvenile courts in accordance with the law, ensuring its expertise and conformity with international practices. The whole court system now has 247 specialized courts in 63 provincial people’s courts, a decrease of 34 specialized courts compared to before. The number of military courts was also reorganized, leaving 9 military courts of military zones and equivalents, and 10 regional military courts (decreased by 07 regional military courts compared to before).

The People’s Courts well implemented Resolution No. 39-NQ/TW of the Politburo with 1,808 payrolls reduced (currently 13,429 payrolls out of a total of 15,237 assigned payrolls), reaching 11.87%, exceeding the target set by the Resolution.

The quality of the contingent of cadres and civil servants, especially those holding judicial titles in the people’s courts, has been improved with more equal qualifications than before thanks to the implementation of centralized, unified and highly competitive selection and promotion exams. The Supreme People’s Court successfully held 14 selection exams, raised the ranks of senior, intermediate and elementary judges for 5,378 people. The selection exams were conducted strictly and in accordance with regulations; contributed to selecting a contingent of cadres who are truly qualified, talented, and dedicated to the cause of developing the country’s judiciary.

Training and fostering continued to be focused with many innovations, especially online training and online dialogue between the Judicial Council of the Supreme People’s Court and judges and court officials. To date, more than 30 online dialogue sessions have been organized between the Judicial Council of the Supreme People’s Court and judges of courts at all levels to discuss and solve problems with the participation of more than 15,000 judges and judicial titles. This method has contributed to improving the quality of civil servants in the people’s courts.

The pilot exam for selection of leadership and management positions at the departmental level according to the policy of the Secretariat was seriously and successfully implemented by the Supreme People’s Court. Through organizing 02 selection exams, 06 officials were selected to appoint departmental leaders, creating a premise for breakthroughs in cadre work, encouraging talented and virtuous people to participate in management work at units and courts through the competitive selection mechanism.

Public discipline for cadres and civil servants, especially those with judicial titles, was guaranteed. The Supreme People’s Court issued Decision No. 120/TANDTC-QD dated June 19, 2017 on handling responsibilities of persons holding judicial titles in people’s courts; “Code of ethics and conduct of judges”, Directive No. 05/2020/CT-CA dated July 28, 2020 on strengthening public discipline to build a contingent of honest and professional cadres and civil servants especially judicial titles; building transparent and strong courts.

Secure physical facilities and enhance the application of information technology

In the 2016 - 2020 term, the court invested and built a new headquarters of the Supreme People’s Court, headquarters of 03 high-level people’s courts, headquarters of 21 provincial people’s courts and headquarters of 49 district-level people’s courts. Three stages of the project on equipping working facilities of the people’s courts were completed; providing furniture for the courtroom according to a new model for the people’s courts at all levels, ensuring dignity, implementing the principle of litigation at the trial as well as the central role of the trial panel. Court uniforms were fully furnished for judges to create a new look, upholding the majesty of the country’s judiciary. Currently, the Supreme People’s Court is continuing to propose and submit to the Standing Committee of the National Assembly to provide uniforms for people’s jurors to ensure uniformity and consistency among members of the trial panel.

In the context of the strong development of the Fourth Industrial Revolution and the application of digital technology, the Supreme People’s Court has actively invested in information technology infrastructure, deployed digital technology applications in activities to improve the efficiency of management, direction and administration, and increase publicity and transparency in court operations.

By deploying applications on digital platforms and innovating administrative and judicial procedures, the court has created conditions for people to access justice easily and conveniently when dealing with work during the proceedings. People’s Court portal; online video conferencing system; court case website; software to publish court judgments and decisions on the People’s Court portal; online registration software to issue copies of judgments and documents in case files; system of sending and receiving lawsuit petitions, documents and evidences, and delivering services and notifying court procedural documents by electronic means; judge monitoring system... has assisted courts at all levels to improve work efficiency, enhance transparency of judicial activities, responsibilities of procedure-conducting persons and facilitate the public.

2. Judicial reform orientations in the coming time

In order to promptly implement the Resolution of the 13th Party Congress, the Party Civil Affairs Committee of the Supreme People’s Court has led and directed all levels of Party committees and organizations in the People’s Court to seriously participate and organize extensive political activities, research, study, thoroughly grasp and implement the Resolution in the entire court system. On the basis of the views and policies of the Party and the conclusions of the Politburo, the Secretariat, the Party Civil Affairs Committee of the Supreme People’s Court issued the full-term action plan for the 2021-2026 term, in which: identified 25 major tasks and works. Party committees and court leaders at all levels have urgently developed action plans and programs to implement the Resolution of the 13th Party Congress and the resolutions of Party congresses at all levels in association with their assigned functions and tasks and suitable with the characteristics of the situation and actual conditions of the units and localities.

Through summarizing the implementation of the Resolution of the 12th National Congress, the resolutions on judicial reform of the Party and the implementation of the Resolution of the 13th Congress and the resolutions of the Central Executive Committee, the Politburo, the Secretariat, and the resolutions of the National Assembly on judicial work, judicial reform work in the coming time will focus on a number of major points as follows:

Firstly, strengthen the leadership of the Party and the supervision of the elected body. Judicial reform at the court must ensure the absolute and comprehensive leadership of the Party; fully and comprehensively implement the Party’s guidelines and resolutions on judicial reform. Renovating the organization of the people’s court in association with the renewal of the model of party organization in the court system to ensure judicial independence and reasonable separation between the organization of the court by jurisdiction and the division by administrative boundaries, and at the same time arrange chief justices at all levels to join the party committee at the same level with a higher position than the current one and suitable for each locality.

In addition, it is necessary to develop an appropriate mechanism to strengthen the supervision of the elected body and socio-political organizations over the activities of the court, but not to interfere and affect the operation of the court and judicial independence.

Secondly, clarify the content of the judicial power as provided for in the 2013 Constitution, thereby identifying the exerciser of the judicial power and the basic characteristics of the judicial power. There should be a unified perception that the judicial power is the right to protect the law; the right to adjudicate and make decisions on disputes, violations of the law and on matters related to human rights; the right to consider and decide on documents that violate the Constitution and the law; the right to guide the application of laws and develop case precedents. At the same time, clearly define the central position of the right to adjudicate in the procedural system and carry out judicial reform to fully realize the characteristics of the constitutional adjudication right, including: the people’s courts are the judicial organ of the Socialist Republic of Vietnam, exercise judicial power; the courts are independent and subject only to the law; agencies, organizations and individuals are strictly prohibited from interfering in the court’s adjudication.

Thirdly, build an open and transparent judiciary to serve the people, subject to the people’s supervision. Judicial reform must first be open, transparent and convenient for the people; increase the public’s understanding and confidence in the judiciary; build procedural models and scientific and convenient procedures for the people; based on modern science - technology to promote the publicity and transparency of judicial activities and serve the people most effectively.

Continue to improve the mechanism for publicizing adjudication activities; publicizing about the adjudication process; publicizing court judgments and decisions, etc. so that people can access judicial information and supervise judicial activities. Implement the motto “Publicity is the principle, non-publicity is the exception”. Research and develop a mechanism to publicize judgment execution information; the reduction of sentence, early release of prison; and actively receive the supervision of the society for the execution of judgments.

Specify and separate the management of court operations, administrative and judicial activities, and adjudication; renew administrative and judicial procedures in the direction of organization at the courts of the administrative and judicial divisions, implement a single-stop shop, and simplify the receipt, guide the handling of requests from agencies and organizations, citizens; perform the random judgment assignment process. Research and apply new technologies to perform electronic service; receive petitions, respond to settlement results via the internet and by post; impose a binding obligation on the parties to confirm the address for service and the corresponding legal consequences. Develop and improve alternative solutions to adjudication as well as out-of-court dispute resolution mechanisms; continue to effectively implement the Law on Mediation and Dialogue at Court. Conduct online adjudication, online hearing and online mediation.

Fourthly, improve the organizational apparatus and operation of the courts according to the judicial competence, have reasonable separation from administrative units in the direction of organizing regional first-instance courts on the basis of merging one or some district courts. At the same time, research and propose the organization of regional specialized first-instance courts to deal with cases that require in-depth industry and field requirements corresponding to the nature and scale of various types of cases, such as: regional first instance court on Environment, Intellectual Property, Bankruptcy. Reform the regulations on jurisdiction for administrative cases in the direction of raising one level to receive administrative cases.

Fifthly, build a mechanism to ensure that courts are independent and exercise the right to adjudicate according to the law. There should be a mechanism to prevent the interference of unauthorized persons in adjudication activities and handle the responsibility for those who negatively interfere in adjudication and judgment execution activities. Strengthen the protection mechanism for judges who have properly performed their statutory functions and duties, in which, clearly stipulating the exemption from liability for errors of judicial power exercisers; ensure that Judges who have performed their statutory functions will not be held accountable and avoid false accusations against them. Complete the mechanism to ensure judicial authority, thereby carrying out prosecution for acts of failure to execute court judgments and decisions, and disregard for judicial authority. Study and amend relevant laws to properly handle acts of contempt for the court and violation of court order; have a mechanism to handle acts of infringing upon or obstructing legal proceedings (faking, destroying evidences, records and documents, intentionally prolonging the proceedings, declaring or providing inconsistent documents, pursuing legal proceedings...) and force the violator to pay compensation for damage caused by false or malicious proceedings.

Sixthly, renovate and perfect the proceedings, build a trial-centered procedural regime. Ensure the implementation of litigation and improve the quality of litigation at the trial; thoroughly implement the principle of judgment on the basis of evidence and litigation results; perfect regulations on evidence and proof in civil proceedings; ensure the principle of two levels of trial, clearly define the competence of the first-instance and appellate levels; renovate and enhance the application of shortened procedures to settle various types of cases according to regulations; develop a juvenile-friendly procedural mechanism. In addition, the rights of participants in court proceedings must be fully guaranteed, such as: not to let the defendant being detained, the appellant to wear discriminatory clothing when attending the court; protect the right to know, present, defend, propose, complain and denounce of involved parties and other proceeding participants; enhance equality between prosecutors and lawyers in litigation.

Continue to research and perfect the judicial supervision mechanism for the application of judicial measures to restrict human freedom, and investigate and collect illegal evidences; stipulate leniency regime for confessors in criminal proceedings and have a mechanism for streamlining cases in which offenders confess themselves to optimize the allocation of judicial resources. Research and develop a system to evaluate the quality of court judgments and decisions and clearly define the responsibilities of trial panel members (presiding judge, judge, people’s juror); reform the institution of people’s jurors in a more substantive manner; improve the quality of procedural documents, especially judgments and decisions on case settlement. Continue to research and perfect the review mechanism according to special procedures (cassation and retrial) so as not to turn this procedure into a third level of trial; comprehensively reform the duties and authority of the Council of Judges of the Supreme People’s Court.

Seventhly, build regular, professional, integrity and dedicated court cadres. The system of selection, appointment and promotion of judges should continue to be reformed in the direction of building a scientific, reasonable, objective and fair judge evaluation mechanism, considering the evaluation results as an important basis for selection, appointment and promotion of judges. The training and fostering mechanism for judges should be renewed, taking into account actual needs to develop appropriate training and fostering programs and plans; decentralize, classify the training for judges and focus on improving the ability to preside over the trial, administer the litigation trial, the ability to apply the law and the skill to draft procedural documents. There should have a mechanism to encourage and train, foster judges to have in-depth and professional skills in narrow areas of expertise, foreign language proficiency, and understanding of international law. At the same time, it is necessary to perfect the salary system for judges, examiners, and court clerks with an independent salary scale and remuneration regime, suitable to the work characteristics of judges and other judicial titles at the court to attract talents and create conditions for those holding judicial titles to work and dedicate themselves.

Eighthly, build electronic courts on the basis of applying information technology and digital technology in legal proceedings and court administration. It is necessary to develop an appropriate legal mechanism to conduct the implementation of digital applications, such as online adjudication, online mediation, online hearing, collection and payment of court fees, litigation costs, and handover of and provision of evidences, service of legal documents and taking testimonies, etc. Connection and use national databases, databases of ministries and branches to serve electronic proceedings. Develop and use software to manage and monitor internal activities of the court system such as case management, cadre, finance management, etc. At the same time, develop “national data warehouses of court judgments and decisions”, court data centers and equipment systems for courtrooms, systems for converting the voice at the trial into text to turn ordinary speech and text data into digital data that can be stored for a long time and can use artificial intelligence technology to support the adjudication process. Continue to develop applications for providing public judicial services on digital platforms, such as: receiving petitions, responding to petitions, introducing law and information on judicial activities.

Implement the above-mentioned judicial reform orientations to successfully complete the Resolution of the 13th Party Congress and practically build people’s courts of integrity, professionalism, prestige and modernity, serving the Fatherland and serving the people.

ASSOC. PROF., Dr. NGUYEN HOA BINH

Politburo Member, Secretary of the Party Central Committee

Chief Justice of the Supreme People's Court

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