Many Vietnamese are upset because the authorities resort far too often to "administrative sanctions" instead of prison. They are critical of the extradition agreement signed by Hanoi and Beijing in 2015. For many, national sovereignty is at stake.
Hanoi (AsiaNews) – The decision by Vietnamese authorities to impose small fines rather than the penalties provided by the law against Chinese nationals involved in drug production and trafficking has upset many Vietnamese, both experts and ordinary citizens, who now wonder whether their country has become a haven for Chinese criminals.
The latest episode that caught the attention of public opinion occurred on 11 September when the authorities broke into a makeshift laboratory in Bùi Thị Xuân, a district of the city of Quy Nhơn City (south-central province of Bình Định).
During the operation, police found large quantities of chemicals (286 barrels), over 300 bags of flour and about 20 tonnes of machinery and equipment for drug production.
The laboratory was run by seven Chinese. Four were fined 95 million Vietnamese đồng (US,100) for "illegal stay" in Vietnam. The other three were fined 20 million đồng (US0) for "illegal entry and work".
Drug production and trafficking are on the rise in Vietnam. Already concerned about their social impact, many Vietnamese have slammed the authorities' use of "administrative sanctions".
For H. H. S., a lawyer, the Vietnamese Penal Code provides for many years in prison, or even death, to anyone caught in possession of drugs such as those found in Quy Nhơn City.
For many, national sovereignty is also at stake. "Anyone who produces or sells drugs on Vietnamese soil should be judged according to the Law of Vietnam,” said Mr Quang. Instead, “the government has been compelled by China into an extradition agreement, so the authorities are forced to hand over Chinese criminals to Beijing. However, it is not known if they will ever face trial in China."
Hanoi and Beijing signed the agreement on 7 April 2015 but it entered into force only on 26 August 2019 when China’s National People's Congress ratified the agreement.
Immediately afterwards, Vietnamese authorities sent three people back to China, guilty of killing a taxi driver and throwing his body into a river in Sơn La province (north-western Vietnam). The deportation angered those who wanted the convicts to serve their term in a Vietnamese prison.
In late August, Vietnam extradited 28 Chinese nationals involved in financial fraud. In early September, nearly 400 people were sent back to China despite being part of the largest illegal online gambling organisation in Hải Phòng City.