Vietnam minister wants to restore firing squad

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Minister of Public Security Tran Dai Quang at a National Assembly meeting on November 7 / PHOTO COURTESY OF NGUOI LAO DONG

The Minister of Public Security has asked the National Assembly, Vietnam's legislature, to reinstate the firing squad to be used alongside lethal injection for executions through 2015.

Vietnam replaced the firing squad with lethal injection in 2011, but implementation has been sluggish.

Since Vietnam executed its first death-row inmate via lethal injection on August 6, the country has used the method to execute a total of seven people, Minister Tran Dai Quang told a National Assembly meeting on November 7.

Currently, there are 678 inmates awaiting execution in Vietnam.

The lethal injection method was set to replace the firing squad in July 2011, but implementation became indefinitely delayed when the European Union, which has banned capital punishment, stopped selling the lethal drug cocktail Vietnamese law mandated must be used for executions.

Earlier this year, the government ordered the lethal drugs be produced locally and that those condemned to death be given such injections starting on June 27.

But unable to carry out the order on two consecutive appointed days, the Ministry of Public Security sought permission from the National Assembly to reapply the firing squad to be used in conjunction with lethal injections.

At the latest National Assembly meeting, many lawmakers also made the same proposal.

Legislator Huynh Nghia from the central city of Da Nang said inmates have been waiting too long to be executed, and nine of them, unable to cope with pressures, have pled with related agencies to execute them quickly, Nghia said.

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"I once proposed restoring the firing squad to the National Assembly, but my proposal was not considered. Now, it's time the National Assembly issued a resolution," he said.

Bach Thi Huong Thuy, a representative from the northern province of Hoa Binh, echoed Nghia's sentiments, saying that due to difficulties in infrastructure, lethal injection is a slow process, placing "heavy pressure" on inmates and their families.

Both the execution methods should be applied at the same time to handle the number of death-row inmates, according to legislator Tran Thi Hoa Sinh from the northern province of Lang Son.

At a legislature meeting in October last year, many lawmakers also said that the firing squad should be restored.

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