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Vietnam - Rule of Law Program

Strengthening Skills of Judges and Lawyers in Adversarial Criminal Trials

With support from the U.S. Department of State Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Agency (INL), ABA ROLI is conducting a Criminal Trial Advocacy Program with the aim of providing Vietnamese judges, prosecutors, criminal defense attorneys, and law students an opportunity to develop the knowledge and skills they need to implement the adversarial elements included in Vietnam’s 2015 Criminal Procedure Code (CPC), which went into effect in January 2018. While Vietnam has generally followed an inquisitorial system, the 2015 CPC promotes adversarial principles of criminal justice and rights. With this development, criminal defendants and their counsels are granted more rights in criminal proceedings. ABA ROLI develops training curriculum for judges, teaching prosecutors, and defense lawyers as well as other resources to facilitate this process.

In 2017, ABA ROLI conducted a four-week study exchange in the U.S. under its International Justice Sector Education and Training Fellowship (IJET) Program for Vietnamese representatives from the Vietnam Bar Federation (VBF), the Supreme People’s Court, and the Office of the Central Steering Committee for Judicial Reform. The Vietnamese IJET fellows developed a collective change plan to enhance the professional skills of judges, prosecutors, and lawyers in using an adversarial approach in litigation. The plan informed the design of ABA ROLI’s current Trial Advocacy Program in Vietnam.

Since the program commenced in April 2019, ABA ROLI has conducted trial advocacy skills training courses for 40 judges from19 provinces, 103 prosecutors from over 13 provinces, 191 criminal defense lawyers from 32 provinces, and 134 law students from seven law schools. In 2022, ABA ROLI supported the SPC to conduct a Comparative Study on Lay Participation in Criminal Trials, which compared the jury trial model of Vietnam to that of other countries such as the United States and Japan. ABA ROLI and the SPC also organized two workshops on case precedent in Hanoi and Da Nang City, with a combined attendance of 118 participants. In the future, ABA ROLI will continue to work with its partners such as the SPC, the VBF, SPP etc., as well as pursue cooperation with other institutions in Vietnam to conduct further trial advocacy skills training courses for judges, prosecutors, defense lawyers, and law students, among other activities such as post-training evaluations and workshops centered around such topics as plea bargaining.

Disrupting Money Laundering Through Gambling in Southeast Asia 

In late 2020, with support from INL, ABA ROLI launched a program to Disrupt Money Laundering through Gambling for the Mekong region, including Vietnam. This program aims to generate multi-jurisdictional support for a common vision for enhancing the anti-money laundering (AML) regime in this region through work with regulators and lawmakers, competent law enforcement, and company compliance officers and managers. Coordination with relevant experts has been undertaken to produce a handbook and other materials to standardize AML practices in the gambling sector in line with international best practices for tracking money laundering threats, trends, and vulnerabilities. Specifically, ABAROLI developed a Handbook for Preventing Money Laundering in the Casino Sector to assist the development and implementation of effective policies and procedures to prevent ML through casinos. ABA ROLI also developed a Compliance Assessment Tool based on the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) recommendations.

In September 2022, ABA ROLI completed an Assessment of the 2012 AML Law of Vietnam. The Compliance Review Report highlights gaps in the AML framework of Vietnam and provides potential solutions that can help pave the way to graduating off the FATF grey list. Subsequently, the National Assembly of Vietnam passed a new AML Law (2022 Law on AML) in November 2022, which became effective on March 1, 2023. It is important to note that this new Law incorporates some of the recommendations of ABA ROLI’s Compliance Review Report, which provided 20 recommendations and proposed 12 articles for amendment of the old Law. To raise awareness on the provisions of the new Law as well as ABA ROLI’s Compliance Report, two workshops for Regulators (including the State Bank of Vietnam, Ministry of Justice, National Assembly, etc.) and Reporting Entities (including Casino Operators) were organized in collaboration with local agencies. ABA ROLI will continue to work with its existing partners such as the Ho Chi Minh National Academy of Politics (HCMNAP) and explore other opportunities for cooperation with the SBV, the Ministry of Finance (MoF) and the Ministry of Public Security (MPS), among others, to maximize impact on the Gambling program in Vietnam, while also working with the Financial Intelligence Units of Lao PDR and Thailand.

Past Programs

Combatting Wildlife Trafficking

With support from the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Agency (INL), ABA ROLI, as a sub-implementing partner to the Wildlife Conservation Society, implemented the Combatting Wildlife Trafficking Program from 2018 – 2020.  During the program, ABA ROLI conducted four training courses in the northern and southern regions of Vietnam with 121 judicial officials on anti-corruption, anti-money laundering, and combating wildlife trafficking.  

Expanding Access to Legal Support for Victims of Trafficking in Persons

ABA ROLI also implemented a program on Trafficking in Persons (TIP), aimed at promoting a coordinated, victim-centric, and accessible legal services across Vietnam for TIP victims and strengthening coordination and referrals between legal and other services for victims of TIP. Given the lack of trafficking-specific training in Vietnam, ABA ROLI conducted three trainings of trainers (ToT) sessions for 127 participants such as lawyers, representatives of provincial legal consulting centres, legal aid providers, legal Points of Contact (POCs), etc., across Vietnam’s 63 provinces, with priority given to those from provinces with a greater prevalence of trafficking. ToT participants were equipped to deliver training to other lawyers in their provinces who are likely to provide advice to trafficking victims. ABA ROLI, under this program, has also provided mentorship to a total of seven lawyers (three males and four females) on TIP legal services, coordination and referral, from five provinces. Furthermore, ABA ROLI supported the development and distribution of a total of 329 training tools/manuals for lawyers and trainers on TIP legal framework and victim-centric legal services. In addition, ABA ROLI supported eight TIP victims to receive legal services including pre- and post-trial legal assistance.