On 8 June, 2020, at the Ninth Session, the National Assembly XIV officially ratified Convention 105 of the International Labour Organisation (“ILO”) on the Abolition of Forced Labour (“Convention”) with 94.82% in agreement. By this event, Vietnam completed ratifying seven out of eight fundamental conventions of the ILO.

Convention 105 concerning the Abolition of Forced Labour was signed on 25 June 1957 and took effect on 17 January 1959. The Convention prohibits the use of any form of forced or compulsory labour as a means of political coercion or education, punishment for the expression of political or ideological views, workforce mobilization, labour discipline, punishment for participation in strikes, or discrimination. Amidst the extensive integration of Vietnam in the global economy, the accession to the Convention is a necessary step to reaffirm the participation of Vietnam in solving global issues. It is also a “laissez-passer” for Vietnamese goods and services to enter global markets as prohibiting forced labour is an essential condition strictly requested by many importing countries.

On the other hand, all of the contents of this Convention do not contravene any of Vietnam’s laws, which facilitates procedure for the Convention’s implementation. Indeed, there are already several Vietnamese laws and regulations concerning forced labour issues. The Labour Code 2019, which will take effect on 1 January 2021, states that forced labour is considered one of the forbidden acts in Articles 8 and 124 regulating labour disciplinary measures which has already reflected Article 1 of Convention 105.

In terms of sanctions for the use of forced labour, the Vietnamese legal system has already applied strict measures, including both criminal and administrative penalties. The Penal Code 2015 stipulates the crime of forced labour in Article 297 lists out different penalties for “Any person who uses violence, threat of violence or otherwise forces a person to work against his/her will”.

Especially, on 1 March 2020 the Government issued Decree 28/2020/ND-CP on administrative penalties for violations of labour, social insurance and Vietnamese guest workers (“Decree 28”) marking the first time there were administrative sanctions for the use of forced labour. Accordingly, under Article 10.3, employers will be fined between VND 50,000,000 to VND 75,000,000 if they force or maltreat employees (to the extent of not being subject to criminal prosecutions). Previously, there were not any administrative sanctions, which made it difficult to punish violations not serious enough to apply criminal measures. As Decree 28 took effect on 15 April 2020, it demonstrates the efforts of Vietnam’s commitment to fight against forced labour in all forms, as well as fulfilling its obligations as a member as set forth in Article 2 of the Convention: “Each Member of the International Labour Organisation which ratifies this Convention undertakes to take effective measures to secure the immediate and complete abolition of forced or compulsory labour”. Should this Decree 28 be one of the preparatory steps for the ratification of the Convention, the procedure for the Convention’s implementation will be easy and expeditious for all relevant departments and offices.

In conclusion, although there are still many issues which need to be considered, such as inspection and supervision mechanisms to implement the regulations of the Convention and detailed guidance to help quickly detect forced labour cases. There are several existing laws and regulations which prove that Vietnam has been thoroughly prepared for the ratification of the Convention and also illustrates the Government’s willingness to improve the legal framework to enhance Vietnam’s international position.


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