Amnesty International has called on Vietnam to end what it says is torture and ill treatment against prisoners of conscience.
In a report released Tuesday, the human rights group said prisoners of conscience have to endure abuses including prolonged periods of solitary confinement, beatings and the denial of medical treatment.
The report was based on a year of research, including interviews with 18 former prisoners of conscience.
Five of the prisoners told Amnesty International that they spent lengthy periods of time in solitary confinement in dark cells without access to fresh air, clean water and sanitation. They said some prisoners were frequently beaten.
Chau Heng, a land rights activist who was imprisoned, told Amnesty International that when he was taken to see a prison doctor, he opened his mouth to gesture that he could not speak.
“The doctor hit me in the mouth with a round piece of rubber,” he was quoted as saying. “He knocked my teeth out, including my wisdom tooth. I lost so much blood and I passed out again.”
Rafendi Djamin, Amnesty International's director for Southeast Asia and the Pacific, said even though Vietnam ratified the United Nations Convention Against Torture in 2015, the government must do more.
“Vietnam's authorities should seize the moment as the country's amended penal and criminal procedures codes are being reviewed,” Djamin said in a statement Tuesday. “Now is the time to make good on their international obligations by bringing to book those responsible for torture and other ill-treatment and ensuring this appalling practice ends.”
Vietnam's Foreign Ministry did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Vietnam has said that there are no political prisoners in the communist country, and that only law breakers are put behind bars.