Vietnam's National Assembly has voted to replace firing squads with lethal injections in enforcing the death penalty because it is "more humane", officials said on Friday.
Officials said the new law, passed on Thursday, was prompted in part by concern over the damage firing squads cause to the bodies of those executed.
Lethal injection will "reduce psychological pressure on the executioners" and "help the criminal's families to receive their bodies intact", said Nguyen Si Dung, deputy chair of the Office of the National Assembly.
Authorities are due to complete the transition to lethal injection by July 1, 2011. Executioners must be trained in the technique, which involves administering separate injections of painkillers and poisons.
National Assembly deputy Nguyen Lan Dung said the bodies of those executed would be returned to their families except in cases of national security. During the debate, some deputies had worried about the prospect of gangster funerals celebrating criminals' memories.
Authorities do not issue statistics on how many people are executed each year, which is considered a state secret.
However, based on press reports at least 70 people were sentenced to death in 2009, 12 fewer than in 2008. The country has sentenced at least 50 people to death since the start of this year.
Most death sentences in Vietnam are handed down in drug trafficking and murder cases.