Friday, April 26, 2002

Dateline: Vietnam

Vietnam considering reduction in death penalties and alternative to firing squads

HANOI, Vietnam - Communist Vietnam is considering a reduction in the number of crimes punishable by death and is seeking an alternative to the firing squad for executions, state-controlled media said Saturday.

"The world trend is to gradually reduce death penalties. We are considering a step-by-step reduction in the number of crimes punishable by death, except for treason," the Tuoi Tre (Youth) newspaper quoted Truong Vinh Trong, head of the Communist Party's Internal Political Commission, as saying.

Trong said the Communist authorities should also find a "more scientific way" of carrying out executions than the firing squad.

"Our executions are by firing squad, which is appalling and is no longer suitable. We can use several other ways of carrying out executions such as lethal injections and electrocution," he was quoted as saying.

In 1997, Vietnam reduced the number of offenses punishable by death from 44 to 29.

Crimes punishable by death include murder, drug trafficking, child rape and treason.

More than 100 people are killed by firing squads each year. Over the past five years, 310 people were sentenced to death on drug trafficking charges alone.