* This translated version is originated from Ministry of Justice and for reference only.



No: 15/1999/QH10


Independence – Freedom – Happiness

Ha Noi, day 21 month 12 year 1999


(No. 15/1999/QH10)


Criminal law constitutes one of the sharp and effective instruments to prevent and combat crime, actively contributing to the defense of independence, sovereignty, unity and territorial integrity of the socialist Vietnamese Fatherland, the protection of the interests of the State as well as the legitimate rights and interests of citizens and organizations. It also contributes to the maintenance of social order and security and economic management order and provides security for all people to live in a safe, healthy and highly humane social and ecological environment. At the same time the criminal law actively contributes to doing away with elements which obstruct the process of renewal and national industrialization and modernization for a prosperous people, a strong country and an equitable and civilized society.

This Penal Code has been made on the basis of inheriting and promoting the principles and institutions of Vietnam’s criminal legislation, particularly the 1985 Penal Code, as well as experiences drawn from the reality of the struggle to prevent and combat crimes over many decades of the process of national construction and defense.

The Penal Code demonstrates the spirit of active prevention and resolute combat against crimes through penalties in order to deter, educate, convert and reform offenders into honest people; thereby to imbue every citizen with the spirit and sense of being masters of the society, the sense of law observance and active participation in crime prevention and combat.

To strictly implement the Penal Code is the common task of all agencies, organizations and the entire population.


Chapter I


Article 1.- The tasks of the Penal Code

The Penal Code has the tasks of protecting the socialist regime, the people’s mastership, equality among people of various nationalities, the interests of the State, the legitimate rights and interests of citizens and organizations, protecting the socialist law order, opposing all acts of criminal offense; at the same time educating people in the sense of law observance and struggle to prevent and combat crime.

In order to carry out such tasks, the Penal Code defines crimes and the penalties for offenders.

Article 2.- Basis of penal liabilities

Only those persons who have committed crimes defined by the Penal Code shall bear the penal liabilities therefore.

Article 3.- Handling principles

1. All acts of criminal offenses must be timely detected and handled in a prompt, just and enlightened manner in strict accordance with laws.

2. All offenders are equal before the law, regardless of their sex, nationality, beliefs, religion, social class and status.

To severely penalize conspirators, ringleaders, commanders, die-hard opposers, wrong-doers, hooligans, dangerous recidivists, those who have abused their positions and powers to commit crimes and those who have committed crimes with treacherous ploys, in an organized and professional manner, with intention to cause serious consequences.

To grant leniency to persons who make confessions, make honest declarations, denounce accomplices, redeem their faults with achievements, show repentance, voluntarily right themselves or make compensation for damage they have caused.

3. For first-time offenders of less serious crimes, who have shown their repentance, penalties lighter than imprisonment may be imposed, and they may be placed under the supervision and education of agencies, organizations or families.

4. For persons sentenced to imprisonment, they must be compelled to serve their sentences in detention camps, to labor and study so as to become persons useful to society; if they make marked progress, they shall be considered for commutation of their penalties.

5. Persons who have completely served their sentences shall be given conditions to work and live honestly, to integrate themselves into the community, and when they fully meet the conditions prescribed by law, their criminal records shall be wiped.

Article 4.- Responsibility to struggle for crime prevention and combat

1. The police, procuracy, court, judicial and inspection bodies and other concerned agencies shall fulfill their respective functions and tasks and at the same time guide and assist other State bodies, organizations and citizens in preventing and combating crime as well as in supervising and educating offenders at community level.

2. The agencies and organizations have a duty to educate people under their respective management in raising their vigilance, the sense of law protection and observance, and respect for the regulations of socialist life; to take timely measures to eliminate the causes of and conditions for committing crimes in their respective agencies and organizations.

3. All citizens have the obligation to actively participate in the struggle to prevent and combat crimes.