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06HANOI2712 2006-10-25 02:42:00 UNCLASSIFIED//FOR OFFICIAL USE ONLY Embassy Hanoi
Cable title:  

MOJ VICE MINISTER TELLS A/S LOWENKRON

Tags:   PHUM PREL PGOV KIRF OTRA ECON VM 
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RR RUEHCHI RUEHDT RUEHHM
DE RUEHHI #2712/01 2980242
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R 250242Z OCT 06
FM AMEMBASSY HANOI
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 3791
INFO RUEHHM/AMCONSUL HO CHI MINH 2027
RUEHZS/ASEAN REGIONAL FORUM COLLECTIVE
					  UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 HANOI 002712 

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STATE FOR EAP/MLS AND DRL/AWH

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PHUM PREL PGOV KIRF OTRA ECON VM

SUBJECT: MOJ VICE MINISTER TELLS A/S LOWENKRON
GVN TO ABOLISH ADMINISTRATIVE PUNISHMENT DECREE


HANOI 00002712 001.2 OF 002


Summary
-------



1. (SBU) On October 19, Ministry of Justice Vice Minister Hoang The
Lien told Assistant Secretary for Democracy, Human Rights and Labor
Barry Lowenkron that a "political decision" has been made to abolish
Administrative Decree 31 (which authorizes officials to impose
punishments without due process). Official repeal is now a
procedural matter. The Assistant Secretary urged the GVN to rescind
the decree before APEC to ensure maximum global attention. The Vice
Minister stated that passing Permanent Normal Trading Relations and
rescinding Vietnam's Country of Particular Concern (CPC) designation
would advance relations. He noted that many Protestant house
churches in northern Vietnam have "chosen not to register." The
Ambassador pointed out that over 500 Protestant congregations have
expressed an interest in registering and that now is the time for
the GVN to act. Lien said the GVN welcomes USG assistance in moving
from rule "by administrative procedures" to rule by law. End
Summary.

Decree 31


--------------------------





2. (SBU) On October 19, Assistant Secretary for Democracy, Human
Rights and Labor Barry Lowenkron, accompanied by the Ambassador, met
Ministry of Justice (MOJ) Vice Minister Hoang The Lien. The Vice
Minister informed A/S Lowenkron that the GVN has decided to abolish
Administrative Decree 31. (Note: In the past, the GVN has
systematically invoked Decree 31 to arrest dissidents whom it says
threaten national security. Abolition of the decree had been one of
the key issues on the agenda of the US-Vietnam formal human rights
dialogue which resumed after a four year hiatus on February 2006.
End note.) Lien said a "political decision" has been made to repeal
the decree because Vietnam is secure and stable and because "public
opinion" demands this.



3. (SBU) Formally abolishing the decree is now a procedural matter,
Lien continued. The Office of the Government (the Prime Minister's
office) has transmitted its "recommendation" to the National
Assembly's Standing Committee (NASC) that the Decree be repealed.
The NASC must now remove clauses on Decree 31 found in the NASC's
ordinance on administrative probation for the decree to cease to
exist as a law, Lien said. (Note: The NASC passes most GVN
legislation as ordinances. However, these laws are not enforceable
until the GVN issues implementing decrees, such as Decree 31, for
the ordinances. In effect, the revocation procedure reverses this
process. End note.)

PNTR, CPC and Protestant House Churches


--------------------------





4. (SBU) The Vice Minister told A/S Lowenkron that passage of
Permanent Normal Trading Relations (PNTR) legislation and rescinding
the Country of Particular (CPC) designation would advance
U.S.-Vietnam relations. In addition, the GVN looks forward to
continued discussions on human rights so "U.S. citizens can gain the
correct understanding of the situation in Vietnam," he said. The
A/S pointed out that PNTR and the Country of Particular Concern
(CPC) designation are not linked. The Department is doing all it
can on PNTR, but its passage lies with Congress, A/S Lowenkron
added.



5. (SBU) Lien said that the number of Protestants in northern
Vietnam and the Northwest Highlands has grown considerably over the
pas decade and that the GVN issued regulations to faclitate
Protestant house church registration. "Vitnamese citizens are
guaranteed the right to pratice their religious beliefs. It is up
to the churches to register. So far, only 20 churches have chosen
to do this," the Vice Minister said. The USG is evaluating how many
Protestant churches the GVN has registered in the northwest, the
Assistant Secretary replied. He reminded the Vice Minister that, if
the GVN demonstrates a commitment to increase the number registered
in the north to around 100 Protestant congregations, the two sides
could resolve the CPC issue amicably and "put it behind us." When
Lien claimed that all that was needed was for the congregations to
actually signal their desire to register, the Ambassador pointed
out that, of the more than 1,000 house churches in northern Vietnam,
over 500 have submitted their applications to register with local
authorities and that now is the time for the GVN to act.

Inching Toward Rule by Law


--------------------------





6. (SBU) Lien warmly received the Assistant Secretary's offer of USG
programmatic assistance in reforming Vietnam's criminal and civil
procedure codes. Hanoi is revising the code to meet the demands of
international economic integration. In the past, the GVN dealt with

HANOI 00002712 002.2 OF 002


IPR violations "through administrative procedures, but now we need
to deal with them in court," the Vice Minister added.



7. (SBU) Lien highlighted the fact that the MOJ is not responsible
for prosecution of defendants. On the contrary, the MOJ's most
important function is to help the GVN to develop the nation's legal
system and take part in the crafting of laws by other ministries.
The MOJ also takes the lead in disseminating information and
educating people about laws. In addition, the ministry trains legal
examiners, lawyers and judges and sets up networks of legal
services, the VM added.



8. (SBU) Assistant Secretary Lowenkron has cleared this message.

MARINE