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Cablegate: Approval of Vietnam's Domestic Violence Law Positive, But

VZCZCXRO8496
RR RUEHCHI RUEHDT RUEHHM RUEHNH
DE RUEHHI #2011/01 3330627
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
R 290627Z NOV 07
FM AMEMBASSY HANOI
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 6792
INFO RUEHHM/AMCONSUL HO CHI MINH 3995
RUCNASE/ASEAN MEMBER COLLECTIVE

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 HANOI 002011

SIPDIS

SENSITIVE
SIPDIS

STATE FOR EAP/MLS AND DRL/AWH

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: KWMN PHUM PREL PGOV SOCI VM

SUBJECT: APPROVAL OF VIETNAM'S DOMESTIC VIOLENCE LAW POSITIVE, BUT
CONCERNS REMAIN


HANOI 00002011 001.2 OF 002

1. (SBU) Summary: On November 21, 2007, the GVN National Assembly
passed the long-awaited Law on Domestic Violence, aimed at
preventing and punishing acts of domestic violence. Domestic
violence continues to be prevalent in Vietnam, particularly in
remote and rural areas. The passage of the Law received much
attention and many positive comments from various government
agencies. However, several of our GVN contacts, including National
Assembly deputies, non-governmental organizations (NGOs), and common
citizens, expressed reservations about issues including the lenient
punishments laid out in the Law, implementation, and the unclear
delineation of responsibilities of GVN agencies. End Summary.


The Law's Nuts and Bolts
------------------------

2. (SBU) On November 21, 2007, the GVN National Assembly passed the
Law on Domestic Violence with almost 89 percent of the votes in
favor. Drafted by the National Assembly's Committee for Social
Affairs (NACSA), a large number of government agencies and NGOs
provided comment on the law prior to its passage. The Law defines
domestic violence acts, spells out how the Law applies, specifies
principles and measures for prevention and control, and delineates
the roles and responsibilities of different government offices
(including the Ministries of Culture, Sports and Tourism; Labor;
Public Security; Education and Training; the Courts; the Vietnam
Fatherland Front; and the Vietnam Women's Union) in educating,
disseminating and implementing the Law. Some punishments for those
who commit acts of domestic violence are also codified in the Law.

State's Commitments to CEDAW
----------------------------

3. (SBU) In talking to PolOff about the Law's passage, Nguyen Hoang
Mai of NACSA emphasized that the approval of the law demonstrated
Vietnam's commitment to the Convention on the Elimination of All
Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW), which Vietnam signed
in 1980 and ratified in 1981. "Having such a law is necessary for
Vietnam because it expresses the State's policy on respecting and
caring for women's benefits in general and women's issues in
particular. Domestic violence is not solely a particular family's
issue but a whole society's. It is an illegal act violating human
rights and that is why domestic violence victims need to be
protected and supported, and those committing violent acts need to
be dealt with in accordance with the law." The Vietnam Women's
Union, which assisted in drafting the law, also reacted very
positively to the Law's approval.

Limitations of the Law
----------------------

4. (SBU) Conversely, several NGOs expressed doubt regarding the
effective implementation of the Law. To Kim Lien, program manager
of The Asia Foundation, commented that while some forms of
punishments (including disciplinary warnings, cash fines, and/or
administrative punishment) are specified in the law, these
punishments are not serious enough to prevent violent acts. She
added that some cases of domestic violence are more appropriately
dealt with in accordance with the existing Criminal Code.

5. (SBU) Tran Hong Diep, Vice Director of local NGO CSAGA, which
operates a center for women and children abuse victims, noted that
the law does not mention the need to establish shelters for victims
of domestic violence. Shelters are extremely important for victims
in crisis, and the common practice in Vietnam of using local medical
establishments as shelters is not appropriate, she said. She also
noted that the role of the local police, very important in domestic
violence cases, is not clearly defined in the legislation.

6. (SBU) According to Dr. Vuong Thi Hanh, Director of local NGO
CEPEW (Center for Education Promotion and Empowerment of Women), the
Law depends too much on the Women's Union and the Vietnam Fatherland
Front, both mass organizations, for its implementation at local
levels. He doubted that these organizations would be able to
produce the expected results as they are "operationally weak" in
many areas of the country. He added that the Women's Union does not
have a strong voice and the Fatherland Front primarily focuses on
propaganda activities for the Communist Party.

7. (SBU) Duong Trung Quoc, a National Assembly deputy known for his
outspokenness, commented that a number of the National Assembly
deputies are still concerned over the law's implementation and
enforcement as it does not clearly define the responsibilities of
the different ministries and agencies. Further, assigning the
Ministry of Culture, Sport, and Tourism as the lead agency in
coordinating with other ministries does not seem an appropriate or

HANOI 00002011 002.2 OF 002


effective method of implementation.

Comment
-------
8. (SBU) The passage of a new Law on Domestic Violence is certainly
a positive step forward in Vietnam's stated policy on respecting and
caring for women's rights and issues. However, the unclear
definition of responsibilities of state agencies, the lenient forms
of punishment, and the lack of infrastructure facilities like
shelters and counseling establishments demonstrate that Vietnam
still has a long way to go to in preventing domestic violence and
helping its victims.

MICHALAK

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