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Vietnam: Lethal Injection Looms for 117 Prisoners

Today, June 27, according to a government decree, the Ministry of Public Security and the Ministry of Defense will begin the implementation of the death penalty by poison, at the 5 execution facilities in Hanoi, Son La, Nghe An, Dak Lak and Ho Chi Minh City.

Death penalty not yet authorized by lethal injection because of lacking medication

However, Lieutenant General Cao Ngoc Oanh, General Director of the Agency for Sentence Enforcement and Judicial Assistance of the Ministry Public Security said on June 26 that the facilities and poison for lethal injection "are still being prepared."

Mr. Nguyen Xuan Truong, Chair of the Health Ministry Office, said the production of poison for lethal injection is assigned to the Drug Administration. The information related to poison production is a secret.

The country has over 560 prisoners under death penalty and 170 people are eligible for lethal injection. Firing has been replaced by lethal injection for two years, since the law on enforcement of criminal sentences took effect but due to the lack of poison, lethal injection has not been implemented in Vietnam. Therefore, hundreds of death-row prisoners have had to wait. This situation has not only caused overload in prisons, but also psychological stress for prisoners and superintendents.

At the meeting of the National Assembly Standing Committee on crime prevention in January 2013, Minister of Public Security Tran Dai Quang said Vietnam would produce poison itself.

The poison that will be used for lethal injection in Vietnam includes the sensory paralyzing drug, the drug that paralyzes the musculoskeletal system and the drug to stop the heart's activity.

In late May 2013, Deputy Minister of Public Security Dang Van Hieu confirmed that of more than 500 prisoners who were sentenced to death, over 170 people would be executed by lethal injection from June 27, under the newly-issued Decree 47 of the Government. Hieu said at that time, 3 out of 5 facilities for implementing lethal injection were ready. The training of officers was also completed.

At the National Assembly session on June 14, Minister of Public Security Tran Dai Quang also announced that the implementation of the death penalty by poison will start from June 27.

Source: Vietnamnet, June 26, 2013

URGENT ACTION APPEAL for 117 death row inmates at imminent risk of execution in Vietnam

Some 117 death row prisoners in Viet Nam have exhausted their appeals and will face imminent execution when a change in the law comes into effect on 27 June. There are more than 530 prisoners under sentence of death.

The authorities in Viet Nam amended the Law for Enforcement of Criminal Verdicts in June 2010, to change the method of execution from firing squad to lethal injection, on the grounds that it was more humane. A shortage of drugs for use in lethal injections has meant a delay in implementation of the law, and this has resulted in no executions being carried out since January 2012. However, the courts have continued to impose death sentences.

The shortage of lethal injection drugs followed changes made in 2011 to European Union (EU) regulations on trade in equipment and substances which can be used for capital punishment, torture or other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment, adding barbiturate anesthetic agents to the list of articles requiring an export authorization.

The Viet Nam authorities changed the law again in May 2013, so that drugs sourced from outside the EU or manufactured in-country could be used in lethal injections. The amended law comes into effect on 27 June. The Minister of Public Security has said that 117 death row prisoners will be executed immediately, using drugs manufactured in Viet Nam.

Since the change in the method of execution, Viet Nam has built facilities around the country and trained staff to administer lethal injections. In 2012, more than 86 death sentences were imposed, two of them for embezzlement.

Please write immediately in Vietnamese, English or your own language:
-Demanding that the authorities immediately halt any plans to resume executions, the ultimate form of cruel, inhuman or degrading punishment and a violation of the right to life, protected in international human rights law;
-Calling on them to immediately establish a moratorium on executions with a view to abolition of the death penalty, in line with four UN General Assembly resolutions adopted since 2007, including resolution 67/176 on 20 December 2012;
-Calling on them, in the meantime, to commute all death sentences and reduce the number of offences punishable by the death penalty.


Minister of Public Security
Lt Gen Tran Dai Quang
Ministry of Public Security
44 Yet Kieu Street, Hoan Kiem District
Ha Noi, Viet Nam
Fax: 011 844 3942 0223
Salutation: Dear Minister

Chairman of the National Assembly
Nguyen Sinh Hung
Office of the National Assembly
35 Ngo Quyen St, Hoan Kiem District
Ha Noi, Viet Nam
Salutation: Dear National Assembly Chairman

Minister of Foreign Affairs
Pham Binh Minh
Minister of Foreign Affairs
1 Ton That Dam Street
Ba Dinh District, Ha Noi, Viet Nam
Fax: 011 44 3823 1872

Embassy of Vietnam
1233 20th St NW Suite 400, Washington DC 20036
Tel: 1 202 861 0737 or 1 202 716 8666
Fax: 1 202 861 0917

Please check with the AIUSA Urgent Action Network Office if sending appeals after the above date.


Viet Nam’s National Assembly held discussions in November 2012 over how to resolve the situation of an increasing number of prisoners awaiting execution. It was claimed that this was causing overcrowding in difficult prison conditions, with three prisoners having committed suicide and others allegedly requesting that they be executed soon. Some National Assembly members advocated returning to using the firing squad.

Viet Nam retains the death penalty for 21 offences, including violent crimes, national security offences, drug trafficking and embezzlement. In January 2010, the number of capital offences was reduced from 29, but moves towards a further reduction appear to have stalled.

Statistics on the death penalty have been classified as a “state secret” since January 2004, and there is a general lack of transparency over its application. No information is publicly available on who is currently awaiting execution and for what crimes. State-controlled media report on some death sentences, enabling a minimum level of monitoring of the use of the death penalty in the country. However the total and accurate figures are not available. Government officials publicly stated that the number of prisoners under sentence of death was higher than 530 in January 2013, when discussions were underway on how to resume executions.

Name: Unknown (both)
Issues: Death penalty
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