News / Asia

Rights Groups: UN Human Rights Council Seat an 'Opportunity' for Vietnam

FILE - Friends and supporters wearing t-shirts with the image of lawyer Le Quoc Quan hold hands while attending a mass calling for Quan to be freed at Thai Ha church in Hanoi, Sept. 29, 2013.
FILE - Friends and supporters wearing t-shirts with the image of lawyer Le Quoc Quan hold hands while attending a mass calling for Quan to be freed at Thai Ha church in Hanoi, Sept. 29, 2013.
TEXT SIZE - +
Marianne Brown
— As Vietnam vies to become a member of the United Nations Human Rights Council, rights groups have called on the country to take the opportunity to release an increasing number of peaceful dissidents, stepping up criticism of Vietnam's increasing restrictions of freedom of expression and the growing number of dissidents sent to jail.
 
Those complaints make the country an unlikely candidate to promote human rights as part of the United Nations Human Rights Council for 2014 to 2016, but Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokesman Luong Thanh Nghi told reporters on Thursday the government is confident Vietnam will gain membership on the council.
 
Nghi said Vietnam has achieved many successes in recent years in ensuring human rights in all areas, which has been recognized by the international community. He added that the promotion of human rights was an important factor in ensuring the reform process of Vietnam.
 
His comment came in response to a report published by Amnesty International the same day, which said the country did not respect its commitments to human rights as stipulated by the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), to which Vietnam is a signatory.
 
The London-based rights group said at least 65 peaceful dissidents had been sentenced to long prison terms since 2012 and trials failed to meet international standards.
 
“While we see, for example, a trend in [Burma] to release prisoners of conscience, political prisoners, in Vietnam we’ve seen an escalation in the crackdown on freedom of expression and the number of those being imprisoned,” said Rupert Abbott, Amnesty’s Vietnam researcher.
 
Amnesty also said that Vietnam should take this opportunity to show the world it is committed to human rights by clearly defining such rights under the constitution.
 
Earlier in the week, New York-based Human Rights Watch also called on the government to show it was worthy of becoming a member of the council by releasing ten political prisoners.
 
Abbott said he thought Vietnam would probably succeed in getting a seat on the council because there have been members in the past that did not have excellent human rights records.
 
“We’re not saying Vietnam shouldn’t have a seat on the human rights council, we’re saying that the situation at home is very different to what Vietnam is trying to portray. If Vietnam wants to play a role internationally promoting human rights then it should really look closer to home and address the situation at home,” said Abbott.
 
In its report, Amnesty points out that under the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, Vietnam is also obliged to respect rights regarding arrest and fair trial.
 
It would be nice to believe the Vietnamese justice system is fair, but the reality is quite different according to Le Quoc Quyet, the younger brother of prominent pro-democracy activist Le Quoc Quan. The 42-year-old Quan was jailed for tax evasion last month, charges observers believe to be politically motivated.
 
“They say the trial will be public but every supporter who goes to the court will be prevented from coming to the court so we cannot believe the trial will be independent and justice will happen,” said Quyet.
 
Quyet said he is just a businessman, but police harass him by knocking on his door at night and sometimes block the road so he cannot attend church. He believes he has become a target, along with other members of his family, because of the activities of his brother.

You May Like

Multimedia Anti-Keystone XL Protests Continue

Demonstrators are worried about pipeline's effect on climate change, their traditional way of life, health and safety More

Thailand's Political Power Struggle Continues

Court gave Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra until May 2 to prepare her defense over abuse of power charges but uncertainty remains over election timing More

Malaysia Plane Search Tests Limits of Ocean Mapping Technology

Expert tells VOA existing equipment’s maximum operating depth is around 6 kilometers as operation continues on ocean bed for any trace of MH370 More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Pet Kangaroo Helps Spread Environmental Messagei
X
Penelope Poulou
April 22, 2014 5:53 PM
Children’s author Julia Heckathorn travels the world to learn about different ecosystems and endangered animals. She pours her knowledge into children’s books, hoping the next generation will right the environmental wrongs of our times. As in many children's books, the main character in Heckathorn's stories is an animal. Unlike those other characters, though, this one is real - a kangaroo, that lives in the author’s backyard. VOA’s Penelope Poulou has more.
Video

Video Pet Kangaroo Helps Spread Environmental Message

Children’s author Julia Heckathorn travels the world to learn about different ecosystems and endangered animals. She pours her knowledge into children’s books, hoping the next generation will right the environmental wrongs of our times. As in many children's books, the main character in Heckathorn's stories is an animal. Unlike those other characters, though, this one is real - a kangaroo, that lives in the author’s backyard. VOA’s Penelope Poulou has more.
Video

Video Pro-Russian Separatists Plan 'Federalization Referendum' in Eastern Ukraine

Pro-Russian separatists in eastern Ukraine say they plan to move forward next month with a referendum vote for greater autonomy, despite the Geneva agreement reached with Russia, the U.S. and Ukraine to end the political conflict. VOA's Brian Padden reports from the city of Donetsk in Eastern Ukraine.
Video

Video Pope Francis Hopes Dual Canonizations Will Reconcile Church

On April 27, two popes - John the XXIII and John Paul II - will be made saints in a ceremony at St. Peter’s Square. VOA religion correspondent Jerome Socolovsky says the dual canonization is part of the current pope’s program to reconcile liberals and conservatives in the Roman Catholic Church.
Video

Video In Capturing Nature's Majesty, Film Makes Case for Its Survival

French filmmaker Luc Jacquet won worldwide acclaim for his 2005 Academy Award-winning documentary "March of the Penguins". Now Jacquet is back with a new film that takes movie-goers deep into the heart of a tropical rainforest - not only to celebrate its grandeur, but to make the case for its survival. VOA's Rosanne Skirble reports.
Video

Video Boston Marathon Bittersweet for Many Runners

Monday's running of the Boston Marathon was bittersweet for many of the 36,000 participants as they finished the run that was interrupted by a double bombing last year. Many gathered along the route paid respect to the four people killed as a result of two bombings near the finish line. VOA's Carolyn Presutti returned to Boston this year to follow two runners, forever changed because of the crimes.
Video

Video International Students Learn Film Production in World's Movie Capital

Hollywood - which is part of Los Angeles - is the movie capital of the world, and many aspiring filmmakers go there in hopes of breaking into the movie business. Mike O'Sullivan reports that regional universities are also a magnet for students who hope to become producers or directors.
Video

Video Pacific Rim Trade Deal Proves Elusive

With the U.S.-led war in Iraq ended and American military involvement in Afghanistan winding down, President Barack Obama has sought to pivot the country's foreign policy focus towards Asia. One aspect of that pivot is the negotiation of a free-trade agreement among 12 Pacific Rim nations. But as Obama leaves this week on a trip to four Asian countries he has found it very difficult to complete the trade pact. VOA's Ken Bredemeier has more from Washington.
Video

Video Autistic Adults Face Housing, Job Challenges

Many parents of children with disabilities fear for the future of their adult child. It can be difficult to find services to help adults with disabilities - physical, mental or emotional - find work or live on their own. The mother of an autistic boy set up a foundation to advocate for the estimated 1.2 million American adults with autism, a developmental disorder that causes communication difficulties and often social difficulties. VOA's Faiza Elmasry reports.
AppleAndroid