This research centers on the change in the nature of the death penalty as expressed in law and practice throughout Vietnam’s history with a focus on modern time. Using a set of typical legal research methods, in particular, legal history, doctrinal research, philosophy of law and, sociology of law, the article analyzes the change and reform of capital offences in Vietnamese laws. It is revealed through our research that the nature of the death penalty has been fundamentally changed from an instrument of power and coercion during much of the history of the country to a manifestation of justice based on the ideas of rule of law and human rights that started to emerge in the early twentieth century, especially from 1986 onwards. As a result, the number of capital offences has been gradually reduced in three modern Criminal Codes. However, it is also noted that the number of capital sentences and executions appears to remain unchanged, even slightly increased. This creates a paradox that opens and invites a future, interdisciplinary research to thoroughly investigate the problem in the country. The article also argues that as the death penalty finds its moral and legal justifications along with the rise of the number of death sentences given to many serious criminal cases, the death penalty appears to find support among the public. In addition, the political sensitivity of the issue, as expressed through the prohibition on the disclosure of the death penalty data, will inhibit discourse on the problem. Together, they will maintain the existence and application of the death penalty in Vietnam in the time to come.
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