According to legal experts, when foreigners commit crimes in Vietnam, the Penal Code also specifies a distinct penalty: deportation. Deportation can either serve as the primary punishment or an additional consequence, depending on the circumstances.
Recently, the Criminal Police Department (PC02) in Ho Chi Minh City successfully dismantled a prostitution ring headed by Son Teaheum, a 47-year-old Korean national who owns the Luxury Business Club restaurant.
Initially, Son Teaheum admitted that his pursuit of profit led him to instruct the Korean manager and some Vietnamese women to involve the female hostesses from his restaurant in prostitution activities with customers. This strategy was aimed at luring customers and generating monthly revenues in the tens of billions of Vietnamese dong.
To evade surveillance by the authorities, the suspects excluded Vietnamese patrons and exclusively facilitated Korean guests to dine, drink, and engage in sexual transactions with the female flight attendants.
The suspects continuously altered their methods of running the prostitution operation, frequently conducting clandestine meetings, providing management directives, and employing various tactics to conceal their illegal activities. Moreover, the ringleaders regularly organized additional security personnel and implemented stringent patrols, even altering the symbols used to denote prostitution on the bills.
Responding to reports of this incident, Vietnam Insider raised a fundamental question: Are foreigners who commit crimes on Vietnamese soil subject to criminal prosecution in accordance with Vietnamese law?
Lawyer Quach Thanh Luc, Director of the Rule of Law Law Firm and a member of the Hanoi Bar Association, clarified that in this case, the police will determine whether Son Teaheum is entitled to diplomatic or consular immunity. If not, he will face the same legal penalties as Vietnamese citizens who commit offenses under Vietnamese law.
This matter is explicitly outlined in the 2015 Penal Code, which was subsequently amended and supplemented in 2017. Clause 2, Article 5 of this code addresses the issue of foreigners committing crimes within the Socialist Republic of Vietnam:
“For foreigners who commit crimes on the territory of the Socialist Republic of Vietnam, they are subject to diplomatic or consular immunity as per Vietnamese law and in accordance with international treaties to which the Socialist Republic of Vietnam is a party. If Vietnam is a member or adheres to international conventions, their criminal liability will be determined based on the provisions of said international treaty or international practice. In cases where the international treaty does not specify regulations or if there is no international precedent, their criminal liability will be resolved through diplomatic means.
In the event that Son Teaheum does not qualify for diplomatic or consular immunity, he will be subject to legal proceedings in accordance with Vietnamese law.