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

Will Cuba Follow the Southeast Asia Model?

Decision to restore ties between US and Cuba has some debating whether it will lead to enhancement or regression of democracy for Communist island nation More

Kenyan Designer Finds Her Niche in Fashion Industry

‘Made in China’ fabrics underlie her success More

Report: CIA, Israel's Mossad Killed Senior Hezbollah Commander

The Washington Post story says Imad Mughniyah was killed instantly by a bomb "triggered remotely" from Tel Aviv by Mossad agents More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Jefferson's Library Continues to Impress, 200 Years Lateri
X
Deborah Block
January 31, 2015 12:12 AM
Two hundred years after the U.S. Congress purchased a huge collection of books belonging to former President Thomas Jefferson, it remains one of America’s greatest literal treasures and has become the centerpiece of Washington’s Library of Congress. VOA’s Deborah Block reports.
Video

Video Jefferson's Library Continues to Impress, 200 Years Later

Two hundred years after the U.S. Congress purchased a huge collection of books belonging to former President Thomas Jefferson, it remains one of America’s greatest literal treasures and has become the centerpiece of Washington’s Library of Congress. VOA’s Deborah Block reports.
Video

Video Egypt's Suez Canal Dreams Tempered by Continued Unrest

Egypt plans to expand the Suez Canal, raising hopes that the end of its economic crisis may be in sight. But some analysts say they expect the project may cost too much and take too long to make life better for everyday Egyptians. VOA's Heather Murdock reports.
Video

Video Threat of Creeping Lava Has Hawaiians on Edge

Residents of the small town of Pahoa on the Big Island of Hawaii face an advancing threat from the Kilauea volcano. Local residents are keeping a watchful eye on creeping lava. Mike O’Sullivan reports.
Video

Video Pro-Kremlin Youth Group Creatively Promotes 'Patriotic' Propaganda

As Russia's President Vladimir Putin faces international pressure over Ukraine and a failing economy, unofficial domestic groups are rallying to his support. One such youth organization, CET, or Network, uses creative multimedia to appeal to Russia's urban youth with patriotic propaganda. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports.
Video

Video Filmmakers Produce Hand-Painted Documentary on Van Gogh

The troubled life of the famous 19th century Dutch painter Vincent van Gogh has been told through many books and films, but never in the way a group of filmmakers now intends to do. "Loving Vincent " will be the first ever feature-length film made of animated hand-painted images, done in the style of the late artist. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Issues or Ethnicity? Question Divides Nigeria

As Nigeria goes to the polls next month, many expect the two top presidential contenders to gain much of their support from constituencies organized along ethnic or religious lines. But are faith and regional blocs really what political power in Nigeria is about? Chris Stein reports.
Video

Video Rock-Consuming Organisms Alter Views of Life Processes

Scientists thought they knew much about how life works, until a discovery more than two decades ago challenged conventional beliefs. Scientists found that there are organisms that breathe rocks. And it is only recently that the scientific community is accepting that there are organisms that could get energy out of rocks. Correspondent Elizabeth Lee reports.
Video

Video Paris Attacks Highlight Global Weapons Black Market

As law enforcement officials piece together how the Paris and Belgian terror cells carried out their recent attacks, questions are being asked about how they obtained military grade assault weapons - which are illegal in the European Union. As VOA's Jeff Swicord reports, experts say there is a very active worldwide black market for these weapons, and criminals and terrorists are buying.
Video

Video Activists Accuse China of Targeting Religious Freedom

The U.S.-based Chinese religious rights group ChinaAid says 2014 was the worst year for religious freedom in China since the end of the Cultural Revolution. As Ye Fan reports, activists say Beijing has been tightening religious controls ever since Chinese leader Xi Jinping came to office. Hu Wei narrates.
Video

Video Theologians Cast Doubt on Morality of Drone Strikes

In 2006, stirred by photos of U.S. soldiers mistreating Iraqi prisoners, a group of American faith leaders and academics launched the National Religious Campaign Against Torture. It played an important role in getting Congress to investigate, and the president to ban, torture. VOA's Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Former Sudan 'Lost Boy' Becomes Chess Master in NYC

In the mid-1980’s, thousands of Sudanese boys escaped the country's civil war by walking for weeks, then months and finally for more than a year, up to 1,500 kilometers across three countries. The so-called Lost Boys of the Sudan had little time for games. But one of them later mastered the game of chess, and now teaches it to children in the New York area. VOA’s Bernard Shusman in New York has his story.
Video

Video NASA Monitors Earth’s Vital Signs From Space

The U.S. space agency, NASA, is wrapping up its busiest 12-month period in more than a decade, with three missions launched in 2014 and two this month, one in early January and the fifth scheduled for January 29. As VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports, the instruments being lifted into orbit are focused on Earth’s vital life support systems and how they are responding to a warmer planet.

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More

All About America

AppleAndroid