Capital punishment is a legal penalty in Vietnam for a variety of crimes.

The Human Rights Measurement Initiative[1] gives Vietnam a score of 4.4 out of 10 on the right to freedom from the death penalty, based on responses from human rights experts in the country.[2] These experts have also identified that certain groups, such as migrants and/or immigrants, people with low social or economic status, and refugees or asylum seekers are particularly at risk of having their right to freedom from the death penalty violated. In 2020, these experts additionally identified "those involved in land disputes, particularly those involved with the Dong Tam Village attack" and "detainees or prisoners, particularly those convicted for drug offences or robberies" as especially vulnerable to death penalty executions.[3]


Twenty-nine articles in the Penal Code allow the death penalty as an optional punishment. Executions were once carried out by a firing squad of seven police officers, where the prisoners were blindfolded and tied to stakes. The firing squad was replaced by lethal injection in November 2011 after the Law on Execution of Criminal Judgments (in article 59(1)) was passed by the National Assembly of Vietnam.[4][5] The drugs used to execute prisoners are produced domestically.[6] The first execution conducted by lethal injection was of Nguyen Anh Tuan, convicted of murdering gas station employee Bui Thi Nguyet on August 6, 2013. [7]

In November 2015, a revision of the Penal Code that severely curtailed the death penalty was passed. Under the new regulations, which took effect on July 1, 2016, the death penalty was abolished for seven crimes: surrendering to the enemy, opposing order, destruction of projects of national security importance, robbery, drug possession, drug appropriation, and the production and trade of fake food. In addition, those 75 or older are exempt, and officials convicted of corruption charges can be spared if they pay back at least 75% of the profits they illicitly obtained.[8]

The death penalty cannot be applied to juvenile offenders, pregnant women, and women nursing children under 36 months old at the time the crime was committed or being tried. These cases are commuted to life imprisonment.[9]

Between August 6, 2013 and June 30, 2016, Vietnam executed 429 people.[6] 1,134 people were sentenced to death between July 2011 and June 2016.[6] The number of individuals on death row is not known.[6]

Crimes carrying capital punishment in Vietnam

According to the Penal Code, the following chapters contain the relevant articles that apply to capital punishment.

Penal Code Articles with Capital Punishment[9]
Chapters Articles
XIII - Crimes of Infringing Upon National Security 108, 109, 110, 112, 113, 114, 115
XIV - Crimes of Infringing Upon Human Life, Health, Dignity and Honor 123, 141, 142
XV - Crimes of Infringing Upon Citizens' Democratic Freedoms None
XVI - Crimes of Infringing Upon Ownership Rights 168, 174
XVII - Crimes of Infringing Upon the Marriage and Family Regimes None
XVIII - Crimes of Infringing Upon the Economic Management Order 188, 190, 203
XIX - Environment-related Crimes None
XX - Narcotics-related Crimes 248, 249, 252
XXI - Crimes of Infringement Upon Public Safety, Public Order 282, 299
XXII - Crimes of Infringing Upon Administrative Management Order None
XXIII - Crimes Relating to Position 353, 354, 364
XXIV - Crimes of Infringing Upon Judicial Activities None
XXV - Crimes of Infringing Upon the Duties and Responsibilities of Army Personnel 395, 399, 401
XXVI - Crimes of Undermining Peace, Against Humanity and War Crimes 421, 422, 423

See also


  1. ^ "Human Rights Measurement Initiative – The first global initiative to track the human rights performance of countries". Retrieved 2022-03-19.
  2. ^ "Vietnam - HRMI Rights Tracker". Retrieved 2022-03-19.
  3. ^ "Vietnam - HRMI Rights Tracker". Retrieved 2022-03-19.
  4. ^ "Firing squad replaced by lethal injection". Viet Nam News. Retrieved 10 October 2011.
  5. ^ "No: 53/2010/QH12 - Execution of criminal judgments". Misistry of Justice. Retrieved 11 October 2011.[permanent dead link]
  6. ^ a b c d Hutt, David (April 20, 2017). "Beware Vietnam's Death Machine". The Diplomat. Archived from the original on April 21, 2017. Retrieved April 20, 2017.
  7. ^ Ha, Le. "First death row inmate executed by lethal injection". Archived from the original on 28 November 2020. Retrieved 31 March 2018.
  8. ^ "Vietnam passes law abolishing death penalty for 7 crimes". 27 November 2015.
  9. ^ a b "Penal Code (No. 15/1999/QH10)". Ministry of Justice. Archived from the original on 2 October 2013. Retrieved 10 October 2011.

Penal Code No. 100/2015/QH13