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VIETNAM, November 18 –

HÀ NỘI — A common framework for mutual legal assistance, in line with international standards and with strong legal feasibility, will help protect the rights and interests of ASEAN citizens and businesses, wherever they are, by particularly the most vulnerable groups, officials said.

The ASEAN Legal Forum will be an opportunity for ASEAN countries to exchange, discuss and share best practices and experiences in mutual legal assistance in civil and commercial matters, which will greatly benefit citizens. of ASEAN, they said.

Speaking at the ASEAN Legal Forum on the Implementation of Mutual Legal Assistance in Civil and Commercial Matters within the framework of the Hague Conference on Thursday, Deputy Minister of Justice Nguyễn Khánh Ngọc said that Integration within ASEAN and between ASEAN and other countries is constantly expanding, bringing about an increase in foreign-related business.

The ASEAN Legal Forum will help ASEAN countries work together, improve understanding and knowledge, solve problems and further promote cooperation between countries.

Ngọc said that over the past ten years, Việt Nam has participated in the Hague Conference on International Justice in 2013, the Hague Convention on Protection of Children and Cooperation in Respect of Intercountry Adoption in 2012, the Hague Convention on Overseas Justice and Extrajudicial Acts in Civil and Commercial Matters in 2016, and the Hague Convention on the Taking of Evidence Abroad in Civil or Commercial Matters commercial in 2020.

The country has also signed 18 mutual legal assistance agreements in bilateral civil and commercial matters with other countries.

In addition, Việt Nam has also strengthened research and consulted many countries to develop and perfect international justice law, and improve the training of law students and jurists and magistrates on contemporary international justice topics.

These efforts have helped the country effectively handle civil and commercial cases involving foreign elements, he said.

Ngọc said that through this forum, ASEAN countries will have more useful information to brainstorm together, discuss ways to promote and strengthen cooperation in international justice, mutual legal assistance in global and regional scale within ASEAN, as well as improving its international legal framework.

Ramla Khalidi, UNDP Resident Representative in Việt Nam, said that more and more Vietnamese and ASEAN citizens are traveling the world, living and working abroad, marrying foreigners, having children born in abroad and buy property or change marital status in another country.

Many Vietnamese and ASEAN companies engage in trade, investment and other activities that go beyond national borders.

Although all of these events are recorded in legal documents issued by the countries where the events took place, this can create a web of complications when disputes take place or cross-border legal issues arise.

“If these situations are not resolved, the protection of the legitimate rights and interests of those involved can be put at risk, often with a disproportionate impact on the lives of women, children and the most vulnerable,” she stressed. .

Ramla Khalidi said that as an active member of the Hague Conference on Private International Law and two of the Hague Conventions, Việt Nam has seen the benefits of a common international framework on mutual legal assistance.

She expressed the hope that Việt Nam and other countries will share their experience with other ASEAN members under this legal forum, providing their unique and valuable insights in this field.

Ramla Khalidi also noted that UNDP Việt Nam has worked with the Ministry of Justice to implement a series of studies on legal assistance over the past three years, such as the implementation of the Law on legal assistance in civil matters with a view to guaranteeing the rights of women and children (in 2020); a research on international experiences in mutual legal assistance in civil matters (in 2021) and a field survey on mutual legal assistance activities, analyzing the challenges of the first two reports at the local level (in 2022).

As part of the studies, the organization found that women and children are among the most vulnerable groups.

Sixty to eighty percent of mutual legal assistance requests sent or received by Việt Nam are related to matrimonial or family matters. In divorce and custody cases, women and children encounter difficulties while waiting for the competent authorities to process their claims. In some cases, children have been denied health care benefits because they were unable to obtain birth certificates.

It also revealed that technology plays a very important role in improving the efficiency of processing mutual legal assistance requests.

The need to innovate and digitize mutual legal assistance services is even more pressing for commercial disputes in this era of increasing globalization of commerce and e-commerce. The timely provision of legal evidence by the authority of one country to the court of another country would ensure prompt justice for disputing parties in cross-border trade disputes.

Việt Nam and the ASEAN region should seize the opportunity to accelerate their transition to a citizen-centric and inclusive digital era, she said. —VNS