Right to silence completes a law system for human rights

23/02/2016
The right to remain silent is a legal right recognized, explicitly or by convention, in many of the world's legal systems. The right covers a number of issues centered on the right of the accused or the defendant to refuse to comment or provide an answer when questioned, either prior to or during legal proceedings in a court of law. This can be the right to avoid self-incrimination or the right to remain silent when questioned. The right usually includes the provision that adverse comments or inferences cannot be made by the judge or jury regarding the refusal by a defendant to answer questions before or during a trial, hearing or any other legal proceeding.
So, to review this right in Vietnam, we should find out why the right to remain silent is important?
The right of a person to defend herself or himself during criminal proceedings against them is undoubtedly a basic right. This right is enshrined in different regulations: a suspect has the right to submit evidence to prove his innocence, the right to have lawyers and legal assistance, the right to ask for a change in the jury panel if she/he deems (and can prove) that the panel is prejudiced against her/him, and most importantly, the right to remain silent.
In the proceedings involving investigating authorities and the investigated person, there is an inherent inequality. The investigators have the means to gather evidence and are not obliged to inform the suspect of the information that they have gathered. The investigators also have adequate knowledge of legal proceedings as well as interrogation techniques. On the other hand, the investigated person is often at a disadvantage. She/he is isolated, might not have enough knowledge of legal proceedings, and might not know if the interrogation techniques deployed are legal.
The persons being investigated can defend themselves in many ways, but irrespective of this, they need to have certain knowledge and skills. Of all the possible ways, remaining silent until they get the assistance of a lawyer is the most simple one that can be availed of by anyone in any circumstance.
Therefore, in countries where many conditions are underdeveloped, like Viet Nam, the right to remain silent is even more important and essential, because it's the simplest protection tool for everyone. This is vindicated by the fact that this right has been applied since the 16th century in many countries at a much lower stage of economic development and people's awareness than Viet Nam at present.
In reality, the right to silence has been brought up for many times at sessions of the National Assembly Standing Committee. National Assembly Chairman Nguyen Sinh Hung stressed the need for a detainee or defendant to remain silent until his lawyer is present to avoid coercion and torture.
Although this right is supported by lawyers, it is not backed by investigation agencies for fear of obstructing the investigation process, stressing the need to harmonize the adversarial right and state power. Investigation agencies held that prompt interrogation of detainees, particularly in cases of dangerous or organized crimes, would facilitate investigation as until a lawyer came, other accomplices might all run away.
Though agreeing with recognition of the right to silence of the accused, an experienced investigator said this was not the right time to apply it given currently few people could afford inviting a lawyer while procedures for lawyers to participate in procedural activities remained very complicated.
But for human rights of our country, it’s agreed that the right to silence should be enforced to ensure human rights and prevent torture which might lead to unjust punishment for detainees and defendants.
This right should be recognized to ensure the country’s implementation of treaties to which it is a contracting party, including the 1966 International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and the 1984 Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment. Also, as a member of the United Nations Human Rights Council, Vietnam needs to enact regulations on human rights and establish mechanisms to ensure strict enforcement of these regulations.
This was to materialize the 2013 Constitution under which a person who is arrested, held in custody, temporarily detained, charged with a criminal offence, investigated, prosecuted or brought to trial has the right to defend himself or herself in person or find a defense counsel or another person to defend him or her.
So we can see clearly that the benefits of this right outweigh the disadvantages. It will be likely more challenging for the police, however it's a good thing to try. Avoiding wrongful convictions of innocent people must be a priority and it's a goal that a civilised society should have./.
Chia sẻ bài viết ^^
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