[JURIST] Vietnamese Justice Minister Ha Hung Cuong on Monday asked the country's National Assembly [official website] to consider reducing the number of crimes subject to the death penalty. Cuongs proposal, which would eliminate the death penalty for crimes like bribery and producing counterfeit drugs, comes in response to strong international criticism of the countrys human rights abuses. Le Thi Thu Ba, chair of the legislatures judicial committee, opposed the plan. The committee cited public health and economic consequences related to the production and smuggling of counterfeit drugs. AP has more. Thanh Nien has local coverage.
Amnesty International [advocacy website] reports that at least 83 people were sentenced to death in Vietnam last year. Capital crimes range from land fraud to economic mismanagement of state resources [BBC report]. Foreign governments and advocacy groups have also condemned Vietnam for persecution of journalists, religious groups [JURIST reports] and ethnic minorities. International pressure proved fruitful in 2005, when Vietnam agreed to publish its court decisions [JURIST report] as a condition for membership in the World Trade Organization (WTO) [official website].