Many NA deputies disagreed with the Penal Code’s Article 12, which regulates that any person from 14 to 16, while still legally a child, is held responsible for the above crimes, saying that at these ages, offenders lack knowledge of society and law.
Families, schools and society also impact on children’s behaviour, they said, urging for education measures in such cases.
“The children’s awareness is still limited so they are not fully aware of severe crimes such as serious and particularly serious crimes,” said deputy Luu Binh Nhuong from the southern province of Ben Tre, adding that the young people normally only commit less serious crimes.
“To deter and educate, we should handle criminal charges. But to secure the future for children and children’s rights, only light penalties or judicial, administrative, educational measures or even exemption from punishment are reasonable," Nhuong said.
“When applying criminal responsibility on children, it is necessary to carefully consider appropriate punishments to ensure deterrence and to provide opportunities for children to become good people,” he said.
Deputy Nguyen Thai Hoc from the central coastal province of Phu Yen proposed a second option, stipulating that people between 14 and 16 are only responsible for very serious crimes and particularly serious crimes, but have no criminal liability for less serious offenses or serious crimes such as rape, kidnapping or injuring people.
“Such regulations are consistent with the current situation of crime prevention in adolescence,” he said, adding that the crime rate from 14 to 16 is negligible according to statistics provided by the Supreme People’s Court.
Agreeing, deputy Nguyen Thi Thuy from the northern province of Bac Kan cited data from the Supreme People’s Procuracy, saying that from 2014-2016, there were only 122 children nationwide indicted for intentionally inflicting injury, nine were charged with rape, while two were indicted for kidnapping and appropriation of property.
“This shows that there are very few of these offenders, while the 2015 Penal Code extended criminal proceedings to the children. It should be reconsidered,” she said, adding that serious cases in recent years were not in the 14-16 group, but mostly in the 16-18 group.
Thuy said, according to statistics, the main reason children committed crimes was because they did not have a home or a family with up to 10 percent orphans, 11 per cent had divorced parents while many of them lived with parents who are drug addicts or have criminal records.
According to a report of the NA Standing Committee, many other deputies urged not to amend the Article 2 as the cases of school bullying, rape and kidnapping had increased. A poll conducted at the second session of the National Assembly showed that up to 266 out of 397 NA deputies endorsed this provision of the Criminal Code in 2015.
Also on the same day, deputies discussed the suggestion of the majority of National Assembly deputies and the Government’s proposal to add regulations for illegal multi-level marketing.
Chairwoman of the National Assembly’s Justice Committee, Le Thi Nga said that many multi-level marketing businesses that violate the law had stolen from tens of thousands of people, mainly the poor.
However, the NA Standing Committee said that multi-level marketing is a modern business method. If it obeys the law, it can be effective. However, if the business violates the law, there can be grave consequences, she said.
Deputy Bui Van Xuyen from the northern province of Thai Binh said that the necessity to add violations on multi-level marketing into the Penal Code was not clear.
“The Penal Code has had illegal business removed because it was not suitable for reality, when people have the freedom of doing business in areas not prohibited by law. Now it is not suitable to have a violation on business regulations of multi-level marketing mode," he said.
According to him, the draft law is not likely to be successful in reality because multi-level marketing companies are all licensed.
Furthermore, the highest penalty of only five years imprisonment is much lighter than for illegally appropriating property or hi-tech crimes, which can be punished up to 20 years to life imprisonment, he said.
However, deputy Bach Thi Huong Thuy from the northern province of Hoa Binh said that multi-level marketers used sophisticated tricks to steal.
“Reality shows that the situation is complicated, causing serious consequences and should be added into the law,” she said.
Thuy said it was necessary to punish the heads of multi-level marketing organisations.