Wednesday, 09/01/2019 10:00

Controversy over Hà Nội’s no-recording policy

Chairman of the Ha Noi People’s Committee Nguyen Duc Chung (centre) at a meeting with citizens of Hoan Kiem District in December 2018. — Photo
Viet Nam News

HA NOI — A recent Ha Noi policy barring citizens from taking photos, videos or audio recordings without permission during meetings with public servants has created controversy, with many criticising its implications for transparency efforts.

Nguyen Duc Chung, Chairman of the Ha Noi People’s Committee, signed the Decision on regulations regarding reception of citizens on January 3. Chung said the policy is meant to “prevent cases where groups of people coming to the offices record videos or audio and post doctored versions online to serve other purposes.”

The head of the municipal government also said audio-capable security cameras have already been installed in all of the city’s citizen reception halls.

“We would comply with citizen requests to extract the camera feed, and have necessary papers to record such requests,” Chairman Chung told news outlet

In case any citizen wishes to record videos or audios, they can still negotiate with the public servants that receive them.

“After the recording is finished, both parties would review, agree on the content and the use of the recordings and put down these [items] in a report,” he said, adding that the use of the recordings must also be transparent and public.

However, many argued this would discourage public supervision of the administration’s workings and that there should not be anything to hide.

Ngo Minh Long, from the Ha Noi lawyers’ association, said the policy is not in line with the current law, as citizens’ reception halls are public places and not restricted areas where recordings could only be conducted with prior authorisation.

Long argued that while the law does not outlaw recording, it does forbid “inappropriate dissemination” of the recordings, so citizens’ deliberate use of video recordings to slander someone or to incite anti-Government violence would be a violation of the law.

Nguyen Hong Diep, head of the Central committee on citizens’ reception (under the Government Inspectorate), said it is within the Ha Noi Chairman’s jurisdiction to issue such policies, adding that the same policy is being applied at the Government Inspectorate.

National Assembly Deputy Luu Binh Nhuong said the policy is not “violating the law or the Constitution,” since citizens could still record sessions with officials’ consent.

"While many could be okay with the cameras, others may feel uncomfortable or distracted," Nhuong added. — VNS

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