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

Koreas Mark 61st Anniversary of War Armistice

Muted observances on both sides of heavily-armed Demilitarized Zone that separates two decades-long enemies More

Judge Declares Washington DC Ban on Public Handguns Unconstitutional

Ruling overturns capital city's prohibition on carrying guns in pubic More

Pricey Hepatitis C Drug Draws Criticism

Activists are using the International AIDS Conference to criticize drug companies for charging high prices for life-saving therapies More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Students in Business for Themselvesi
X
Mike O'Sullivan
July 26, 2014 11:04 AM
They're only high school students, but they are making accessories for shoes, fabricating backpacks and doing product photography - all through their own businesses. It's the result of a partnership between a non-profit organization that teaches entrepreneurship and their schools. VOA's Mike O'Sullivan and Deyane Moses met the budding entrepreneurs near Los Angeles.
Video

Video Students in Business for Themselves

They're only high school students, but they are making accessories for shoes, fabricating backpacks and doing product photography - all through their own businesses. It's the result of a partnership between a non-profit organization that teaches entrepreneurship and their schools. VOA's Mike O'Sullivan and Deyane Moses met the budding entrepreneurs near Los Angeles.
Video

Video Astronauts Train in Underwater Lab

In the world’s only underwater laboratory, four U.S. astronauts train for a planned visit to an asteroid. The lab - called Aquarius- is located five kilometers off Key Largo, in southern Florida. Living in close quarters and making excursions only into the surrounding ocean, they try to simulate the daily routine of a crew that will someday travel to collect samples of a rock orbiting far away from earth. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Not Even Monks Spared From Thailand’s Junta-Backed Morality Push

With Thailand’s military government firmly in control after May’s bloodless coup, authorities are carrying out plans they say are aimed at restoring discipline, morality and patriotism to all Thais. The measures include a crackdown on illegal gambling, education reforms to promote students’ moral development, and a new 24-hour phone hotline for citizens to report misbehaving monks. Steve Sandford reports from Bangkok.
Video

Video Virtual Program Teaches Farming Skills

In a fast-changing world beset by unpredictable climate conditions, farmers cannot afford to ignore new technology. Researchers in Australia are developing an online virtual world program to share information about climate change and more sustainable farming techniques for sugar cane growers. As VOA's Zlatica Hoke reports, the idea is to create a wider support network for farmers.
Video

Video Airline Expert: Missile will Show Signature on Debris

The debris field from Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 is spread over a 21-kilometer radius in eastern Ukraine. It is expected to take investigators months to sort through the airplane pieces to learn about the missile that brought down the jetliner and who fired it. VOAs Carolyn Presutti explains how this work will be done.
Video

Video Treatment for Childhood Epilepsy Heats up Medical Marijuana Debate

In the United States, marijuana is classed as an illegal drug by the federal government. But nearly half the states have legalized it, to some degree. Proponents say some strains of marijuana might have exceptional health benefits, for treating pain or inflammation in chronic conditions such as cancer, multiple sclerosis and epilepsy. Shelley Schlender reports on a strain of medical marijuana developed in Colorado that is reputed to reduce seizures in childhood epilepsy
Video

Video Airbus Adds Metal 3D Printed Parts to New Jets

By the end of this year, European aircraft manufacturing consortium Airbus plans to deliver the first of its new, extra-wide-body passenger jets, the A350-XWB. Among other technological innovations, the new plane will also incorporate metal parts made in a 3-D printer. VOA's George Putic has more.
Video

Video AIDS Conference Welcomes Exciting Developments in HIV Treatment, Prevention

Significant strides have been made in recent years toward the treatment and prevention of HIV, the virus that causes AIDS. This year, at the International AIDS Conference, the AIDS community welcomed progress on a new pill that may prevent transmission of the deadly virus. VOA’s Anita Powell reports from Melbourne, Australia.
Video

Video IAEA: Iran Turns its Enriched Uranium Into Less Harmful Form

Iran has converted its stockpiles of enriched uranium into a less dangerous form that is more difficult to use for nuclear weapons, according to the United Nations’ Atomic Energy Agency. The move complies with an interim deal reached with Western powers on Iran's nuclear program last year, in exchange for easing of sanctions. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.

AppleAndroid