|What type of constitutional protection authority would be suitable for Vietnam?
A mechanism to protect the constitution is essential. Its form can be learned from other countries but it must be based on the reality of Vietnam. The National Assembly could elect an authority to protect the constitution and it would work independently.
The job of parliament is to supervise the executive and the judiciary. But who is to judge the parliament when it issues regulations or laws that contravene the constitution? The authority that protects the constitution would supervise the National Assembly.
It would also be empowered to decide whether ministries, their agencies and State and Government officials have acted within the Constitution.
But will it be independent of the National Assembly when it has been appointed by it?
Clearly, the model will have some irrationality. But I think it can be designated by the National Assembly and act independently. It can raise ideas and suggestions that will be discussed in the assembly. Where the two can not agree, the issue could be settled by referendum.
But wouldn't such an authority challenge the supreme supervisory power of the National Assembly?
The matter must be discussed. The authority would be empowered to implement designated duties and both the assembly and its agencies would have to comply.
The National Assembly Law Committee now ensures the legality of laws, regulations and legal documents. All must go to the commission before they go to the assembly. When a constitutional protection authority is established, the assembly would consult with it about a law or legal documents.
When could a constitutional protection authority be appointed in Vietnam?
The issue is dealt with in the draft Political Report and will be resolved at this month's 10th Party Congress. It will be realised in five years.
What agency or office now has responsibility for protecting the Constitution?
The National Assembly Law Committee acts to ensure the unity and legality of Vietnam's legal system. Its major task is to lay down and supervise laws. It could be called on to protect the Constitution because Vietnam does not yet have an independent authority to protect it.
Civilian management has caused many difficulties for people through requiring residential registration. The requirement violates the right of free residence and contravenes the constitution. How does the Law Committee respond to this and other violations?
This reflects the inconsistency of the legal system. The constitution acknowledges that every citizen has the right to free residence but ministries and or municipal authorities issue by-laws that violate the Constitution. The Law Committee is supposed to settle these breaches but responsibility has not been defined clearly.
The Institute of Organising Science has suggested the following models of an authority to protect the Constitution. Parliament establishes a Constitutional Supervision Committee to help it meet its responsibility to ensure legal documents issued by the President, the Government, the Prime Minister, the Supreme Court and municipal authorities are constitutional. Its members would be parliamentary deputies. The committee would deliver its findings to parliament and this would ensure the legislature's supremacy;
The establishment of an independent constitutional protection authority to supervise the legality of activities by both the State and parliament. This is a popular model throughout the world. To match reality in Vietnam, the model must be closely linked to the supervision by the Party. The overseer of the constitutional protection authority - it could be a constitutional court - would be elected from the parliament; and
Reorganising the structure and competence of the People's Supreme Court to empower it to protect the Constitution.
Vietnam News dated 3 April, 2006.