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Cablegate: Vietnam: Meeting with Justice Ministry On Adoptions

This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.



AND EAP/BCLTV, L/EAP, Bangkok for INS/DD, Ho Chi Minh City
for CONS and INS OIC


E.O. 12958: N/A

REFS: A) OI 49.02, Dec 16, 2002, to EAP/BCLTV, B) 02 State

244073, C) 02 Hanoi 3027, D) 02 State 263467, E) Hanoi 25,
F) Hanoi 64, G) Bernier-Toth/Savage telcon 11/22

1. (SBU) Summary. Consul met with Justice Ministry (MOJ)
officials regarding a MOU on adoptions on January 23.
Specifics were not negotiated, but several elements, which
are seen as "must-haves" for an MOU, were identified.
Parties with the "authority" to transmit cases to the
Vietnamese central authority will be have to identified;
foreign adoption agencies will have to be licensed by the
Vietnamese central authority in order to operate or support
adoptions in Vietnam; and any MOU must allow for the
decree's clauses governing the child's citizenship and
protection of not only the adopted child, but also the
biological and adoptive parents. The MOJ provided the
implementing regulations resulting from the decree and
agreed to provide the list of adoptions pending under the
old rules. The GVN flagged the issue of who will sign the
MOU. Consul agreed that USG would review the implementing
regulations as provided. A second USG draft MOU should be
more specific. End Summary.

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2. (U) On January 23, 2003, Consul met again with Nguyen
Quoc Cuong, Vice Director of the Department for Public
Notarial, Legal Expertise, Civil Registration, Nationality,
and Criminal Records, at the Ministry of Justice. Consul
and Cuong were not able to discuss the draft MOU provided
ref D, or any other specifics regarding an MOU as Cuong had
not received cleared guidance. Cuong prefaced the
discussion by saying that any comments about what might or
might not be included in the MOU were his own and not the
official comments of the Ministry.


3. (U) Cuong pointed out that the decree parallels the
Hague Convention on Adoptions of 1993 and requested that we
highlight the positive and good-intentions of the decree in
media statements. He reiterated that international
adoptions will only take place if a bi-lateral agreement of
some form has been signed between the two countries. He
then went on to note that adoption procedures are different
following the new decree, and highlighted some elements that
he feels must be included in any MOU. The adoption
application dossiers will have to be forwarded from the
"authority" of the country of the Prospective Adoptive
Parents (PAPs) to the Vietnamese central authority. Cuong
acknowledged that adoption processing is not centralized in
the US and commented that we would have to work out in our
MOU to whom that authority would be delegated. He later
mentioned that in agreements recently signed with Italy,
Denmark, and Sweden, that authority was granted to adoption
agencies. Consul pressed to see if that authority might be
granted directly to parents or their representatives,
particularly in cases where parents are not using an agency,
but Cuong could not go into this level of detail without

4. (U) Cuong then continued that the Vietnamese Central
Authority would forward adoption application dossiers to the
provinces, and the provinces would have the authority to
approve a dossier only after the central authority had
approved it. The final critical element of an MOU that
Cuong identified is that US adoption agencies would have to
be licensed by the Vietnamese central authority in order to
operate or support adoptions in Vietnam. He could not
comment further on what licensing would entail, and simply
said that `the details would come later.' He later
identified one additional element of the decree which he
feels must be allowed for in any MOU - the decree governs
citizenship issues and protects the interests of not only
the adopted child, but also the biological and adoptive
parents. (Comment: Mission believes this may be a request
for language similar to a clause in the draft framework
agreement which calls for adopted children to not lose
Vietnamese citizenship unless they choose to renounce after
reaching legal age. End Comment)


5. (SBU) Consul asked about the status of lists of cases
that had been accepted by the provinces by December 31, 2002
for processing under the old rules. Despite the deadline
set for provinces to submit these lists to the MOJ by
January 10th, only about two-thirds of the provinces (about
40 of 57) have submitted those lists. The lists received to
date amount to almost 70 cases, including 27 from Hanoi and
27 from Ho Chi Minh City. Cuong guessed that a few (perhaps
10) of these cases being processed under the old rules may
run into difficulties - not because of the decree or new
procedures, but because they were filed by agencies which
have bad reputations and may not be legal adoptions. Cuong
agreed to provide the list, with names and not just numbers,
when it is complete. He also agreed to indicate which cases
he anticipates will be problematic for internal use only,
not to share with PAPs.


6. (U) Consul then requested the implementing regulations
which will govern the implementation of the decree. Cuong
provided a copy of 07/2002/TT-BTP, issued on December 16,
2002, titled: The Instructions for Implementation of Some
Items of Decree 68/2002/ND-CP July 10, 2002 of the
Government's Regulations on Some Articles of Marriage and
Family Law on Marriage and Family Relations with Foreign
Characteristics. Mission has just received a translation
which it will fax separately. Mission has yet to review the
document but, on first glance, it appears to be broad-
ranged, covering legalization and notarials of family-
related documents. It addresses the marriage of Vietnamese
nationals to foreigners, and illegitimate children, as well
as international adoption of Vietnamese children. Topic
headers pertaining to adoption include: Registration of
Adoption with Foreign Factors, Procedures for Submitting
Adoption Dossiers, Order of Introduction of Children for
Adoption, and Procedures for Processing Adoption Dossiers.


7. (U) Consul raised A/S Harty's upcoming visit and asked
that the Minister of Justice and Vice Minister Cuong be
alerted to the possible requests for meetings. (Note: Vice
Minister Cuong is Vice Director Cuong's supervisor.) Vice
Director Cuong said that he would mention it to Vice
Minister Cuong immediately but urged that any requests for
meetings be made as soon as possible through the
International Relations Department, as March is a very busy

8. (U) Consul recalled Cuong's earlier indication that
reaching agreement on an MOU in time for A/S Harty to sign
during her visit to Vietnam would be impossible, and asked
that he be open to the possibility. Cuong indicated that if
we were to work from the draft MOU as presented, it would be
impossible to reach agreement by early March. However, if a
new draft were presented, detailing how the US would proceed
in cooperation with the July decree and December
implementing procedures, Cuong feels that agreement would be
possible with a lot of hard work. He added that the three
agreements which have been successfully negotiated so far,
have included 90% of the proposed ideas in the Vietnamese
draft framework agreement. He stated that a successful MOU
must indicate cooperation on both sides and agree with the
basic principles of the draft framework agreement.
Following on, he acknowledged that the US system and
adoption procedures are very different from Vietnam's, and
particularly mentioned the de-centralization of the United
States system where matters are governed at the State level.
He suggested that these differences should be talked


9. (U) Cuong raised the issue of who would be signing the
MOU. He indicated that "the President" would have to
authorize whoever did the signing. (He seemed to be
indicating a direct authorization specific to this MOU.)
Cuong asked that the USG begin now to determine who will
sign and then authorize that person to sign. He was pleased
that the Ambassador was discussing the MOU at a high level
in Washington, D.C. at that very moment.


10. (SBU) Comment. Cuong's comments focused on a key GVN
point: The GVN considers that our first draft MOU was
overly-simplified and thus cannot comment on that first
draft. Mission recommends that our next draft be
substantive, and address specific points where the US will
cooperate and comply with the decree and implementing

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