Child Soldiers Global Report 2004 - Viet Nam
|Publisher||Child Soldiers International|
|Cite as||Child Soldiers International, Child Soldiers Global Report 2004 - Viet Nam, 2004, available at: http://www.refworld.org/docid/4988061cc.html [accessed 20 May 2013]|
|Disclaimer||This is not a UNHCR publication. UNHCR is not responsible for, nor does it necessarily endorse, its content. Any views expressed are solely those of the author or publisher and do not necessarily reflect those of UNHCR, the United Nations or its Member States.|
Socialist Republic of Viet Nam
Covers the period from April 2001 to March 2004.
Population: 80.3 million (30.8 million under 18)
Government armed forces: 484,000 (estimate)
Compulsory recruitment age: unclear (no conscription in practice)
Voluntary recruitment age: 18
Voting age: 18
Optional Protocol: ratified 20 December 2001
Other treaties ratified (see glossary): CRC, GC AP I, ILO 138, ILO 182
The government stated that no under-18s could be recruited into the armed forces. Compulsory military service was not enforced but the law appeared to allow 16-year-old boys to be conscripted. It was not known whether under-18s were serving in the armed forces. The government said that under-18s would not be used in direct hostilities except if there was an urgent threat to territorial integrity or national sovereignty.
National Assembly elections in 2002 returned the ruling Communist Party to power. No opposition parties contested the poll. International and domestic human rights monitoring was not permitted, and accurate information about recruitment laws and practice in relation to children was difficult to obtain.1
National recruitment legislation and practice
The 1992 constitution states that "It is the sacred duty and the noble right of the citizen to defend his motherland. The citizen must fulfil his military obligation and join in the all-people national defence" (Article 77), and "The entire people shall endeavour to defend the socialist Vietnamese motherland and ensure national security" (Article 44).2
In its declaration on ratifying the Optional Protocol in December 2001, the government stated that by law only male citizens over the age of 18 would be recruited for military service and that under-18s would not be directly involved in hostilities. However, under-18s could be recruited in the case of "an urgent need for safeguarding national independence, sovereignty, unity and territorial integrity".3
In February 2004 the government told the Child Soldiers Coalition that "to ensure that children under the age of 18 are not obliged to join the armed forces, Article 69 of the 1981 Conscription Law stipulates that anyone who abuses power or responsibilities to act in contrary to provisions and regulations on military registration, recruitment and mobilization for military exercises be punished or sentenced for up to 3 months in prison".4
Legal provision exists for compulsory military service, but this was not enforced and there was no military service in practice.5 The 1981 Law on Military Service Duty, as amended in 1994, provides the legal basis for conscription. It requires state agencies and various economic and social organizations, including schools and families, to encourage citizens to carry out military service (Article 10). Every January, People's Committee and other officials, including directors of vocational and secondary schools, must submit a list of the boys who will turn 17 that year to the regional military commander (Article 19). The call-up takes place "once or twice" a year and "the time frame ... and the number of citizens to be called up ... shall be decided by the Government" (Article 19).6
Military training and military schools
On ratifying the Optional Protocol, the government declared that male citizens "up to the age of 17" who wished to join the army could be admitted to military schools. Applicants are required to submit their birth certificates and educational records, as well as undergoing health checks to ensure they are physically able to serve in the armed forces.7
The 1981 Law on Military Service Duty provides for wide-ranging military training programs for boys who have not reached military service age. A general program, to be formulated by the defence and education ministries for students in state schools, was to include political education as well as physical and military training. The law provides for similar programs to be organized by People's Committees for boys not in school.8 Little was known about whether the programs had been set up or how many under-18s were participating in such training.
Disarmament, demobilization and reintegration (DDR)
In February 2004 the government told the Child Soldiers Coalition that, since reunification in 1975, Viet Nam has carried out several demobilization programs as part of its peacetime reconstruction.9 No details were provided.
In its 2002 report to the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child, Viet Nam said that, although there were no children involved in armed conflicts, it "still suffers heavily from the consequences of the long wars. Thousands of children, whose fathers or mothers were exposed to defoliants and toxic chemicals, including Agent Orange, during the war suffer disability, deformity, or other long-term health problems."10
1 Amnesty International Report 2003, http://web.amnesty.org/library/engindex.
2 Constitution, http://www.vietnamembassy-usa.org/learn/gov-constitution4.php3.
3 Declarations and reservations to the Optional Protocol, http://www.ohchr.org.
4 Communication from Vietnamese embassy in the United Kingdom (UK), 26 February 2004.
5 Information from Amnesty International, April 2004.
6 Law on Amendments and Supplements to a Number of Articles of the Law on Military Service Duty, 22 June 1994, http://hannover.park.org/Thailand/MoreAboutAsia/vninfo/docs/t344.html.
7 Declarations and reservations, op. cit.
8 Law on Amendments and Supplements, op. cit.
9 Communication from Vietnamese embassy, op. cit.
10 Periodic report of Viet Nam to UN Committee on the Rights of the Child, UN Doc. CRC/C/65/Add.20, 5 July 2002, http://www.ohchr.org.