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.
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

Russian Help on Iran Less Promising on Syria, Ukraine

US-Russian collaboration to secure a deal on Iran's nuclear program has raised hopes of closer cooperation on other world issues More

Video US: Millions Exploited by Vast Fortunes of Human Trafficking

State Department's annual report calls exploitation 'modern slavery,' brutalizing girls, women into prostitution and forcing men, women and children into low-wage jobs across the globe More

US-Ethiopia Relationship Strong, But Complicated

While Ethiopia serves as a valuable security ally and a bulwark against terrorism - the U.S., is a major aid donor and economic stimulator More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Iran Nuclear Pact Wins Few New US Congressional Backersi
X
Michael Bowman
July 26, 2015 8:44 PM
Later this week, President Barack Obama returns from a trip to Africa to confront a U.S. Congress roiled by the nuclear accord with Iran, an agreement that has received the blessing of the U.N. Security Council. Days of intensive lobbying and testimony by top administration officials have won few new congressional supporters of the pact. VOA’s Michael Bowman reports.
Video

Video Iran Nuclear Pact Wins Few New US Congressional Backers

Later this week, President Barack Obama returns from a trip to Africa to confront a U.S. Congress roiled by the nuclear accord with Iran, an agreement that has received the blessing of the U.N. Security Council. Days of intensive lobbying and testimony by top administration officials have won few new congressional supporters of the pact. VOA’s Michael Bowman reports.
Video

Video Underground Streetcar Station In Washington, DC, to Become Arts Venue

Abandoned more than 50 years ago, the underground streetcar station in Washington D.C’s historic DuPont Circle district is about to be reborn. The plan calls for turning the spacious underground platforms - once meant to be a transportation hub, - into a unique space for art exhibitions, presentations, concerts and even a film set. Roman Mamonov has more from beneath the streets of the U.S. capital. Joy Wagner narrates his report.
Video

Video Obama Encourages Kenya to Fix Cultures of Corruption, Discrimination

President Barack Obama bid farewell to Kenya Sunday with a major speech at as stadium outside the capital Nairobi where he called on Kenyans to change the cultures of corruption and discrimination that can hold society back. VOA East Africa Correspondent Gabe Joselow has the story.
Video

Video Europe’s Twin Crises Collide in Greece as Migrant Numbers Soar

Greece has replaced Italy as the main gateway for migrants into Europe, with more than 100,000 arrivals in the first six months of 2015. Many want to move further into Europe and escape Greece’s economic crisis, but they face widespread dangers on the journey overland through the Balkans. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video Stink Intensifies as Lebanon’s Trash Crisis Continues

After the closure of a major rubbish dump a week ago, the streets of Beirut are filling up with trash. Having failed to draw up a plan B, politicians are struggling to deal with the problem. John Owens has more for VOA from Beirut.
Video

Video Paris Rolls Out Blueprint to Fight Climate Change

A U.N. climate conference in December aims to produce an ambitious agreement to fight heat-trapping greenhouse gases. But many local governments are not waiting, and have drafted their own climate action plans. That’s the case with Paris — which is getting special attention, since it’s hosting the climate summit. Lisa Bryant takes a look for VOA at the transformation of the French capital into an eco-city.
Video

Video Racially Diverse Spider-Man Takes Center Stage

Whether it’s in a comic book or on the big screen, fans have always known the man behind the Spider-Man mask as Peter Parker. But that is changing, at least in the comic book world. Marvel Comics announced that a character called Miles Morales will replace Peter Parker as Spider-Man in a new comic book series. He is half Latino, half African American, and he is quite popular among comic book fans. Correspondent Elizabeth Lee reports from Los Angeles.
Video

Video California Towns Welcome Special Olympics Athletes

Cities and towns in Southern California are greeting thousands of athletes who are arriving for Special Olympics, a competition for people with intellectual disabilities. The games will run from July 25th through August 2nd. VOA's Mike O'Sullivan reports from Pasadena, California, where athletes from Namibia, Singapore and Tanzania got a rousing welcome from local residents.
Video

Video Critics of Japan Defense Policy Focus on Okinawa

In Okinawa, many locals have long complained that Tokyo places an unfair burden on the tiny island by locating most of Japan's U.S. military bases there. As Japan's government moves toward strengthening and expanding the country's defense policies, opponents of those plans are joining local protesters in Okinawa, voicing concern about where the country is headed. VOA’s Brian Padden reports from Okinawa.
Video

Video IS Uses Chemical Weapons in Syrian Attack

Islamic State militants have added a new weapon in their arsenal of fear: chemical weapons. VOA Kurdish service reporter Zana Omer was on the scene within hours of a recent attack in Hasakah, Syria, and has details of the subsequent investigation, in this report narrated by Miguel Amaya.
Video

Video Historic Symbol Is Theme of Vibrant New Show

A new exhibit in Washington is paying tribute to the American flag with a wide and eclectic selection of artwork that uses the historic symbol as its central theme. VOA’s Julie Taboh was at the DC Chamber of Commerce for the show’s opening.
Video

Video Hoverbike Flying Toward Reality

Another long-standing dream of many technological inventors is quickly approaching reality: U.S.- and British-based firms are cooperating in the development of an individual flying platform they call a hoverbike. They say it may revolutionize the concept of flying, including in the U.S. military. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video As Japan Expands Defense Role, Protests Follow

The Japanese government is moving forward with a controversial security bill that would authorize the military to fight abroad for the first time since World War II. Leaders say it is critical to defend against rising threats from China and North Korea. VOA’s Brian Padden reports from Japan on the big changes ahead, and the opposition they are drawing.
Video

Video Rise in HIV Infections Worries Ugandan Officials

Uganda had the third-highest number of new HIV infections in sub-Saharan Africa last year, reversing its reputation for successfully tackling the epidemic in the 1990s. Although the percentage of people living with HIV/AIDS is still half of what it was in the 1980s, the increase in new infections is worrying to health workers. VOA's Serginho Roosblad reports.
Video

Video Replacing Poppies with Coffee in Myanmar

The remote mountains of Myanmar’s Shan state are home to the second-largest opium-producing region in the world. After a drop during the 2000s, production surged in the past eight years to feed an increasing demand for heroin in China. But farmers are now making less on the crop, and the U.N. is hoping many will make the switch to growing coffee. Daniel de Carteret reports for VOA from Taunggyi.

VOA Blogs