chapter  8
Access to justice in Vietnam: State supply – private distrust
ByPIP NICHOLSON
Pages 29

To overhaul judicial procedures to make them more democratic, equal, open, transparent, and consistent as well as more accessible; to ensure public participation and supervision of judicial activities

The Vietnamese Party-State maintains multiple narratives about access to justice. While it continues to promote its nascent legal institutions both at home and abroad, Vietnam allows only incremental and uneven increases in access to legal infrastructure and discourse. Despite the continuing lack of clarity surrounding the drivers for Vietnamese legal reform with respect to “access to justice,” the Vietnamese Party-State is nevertheless accelerating its deployment of “access to justice” rhetoric. While new state institutions associated with increasing access to justice, such as legal aid, have received state support, these developments conceal a Party-State with a cautious and controlling approach to legal reform. Further, the evolving developments should not be seen as part of a rule of law initiative, as there is an ongoing ambiguity about the nature of the Vietnamese legal “transition.” 2 To what does Vietnam aspire? To a liberal democracy? To a multiparty state with unassailable one-party dominance and economic growth and security? To a socialist democracy? All of these visions receive some support internally, although not all receive it formally.