News / Asia

    UN Issues Human Rights Recommendations for Vietnam

    FILE - Vietnam's Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung.
    FILE - Vietnam's Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung.
    The United Nations Human Rights Council has issued a list of 227 recommendations for Vietnam, including calls to abolish the death penalty, improve freedom of religion and end harassment of government critics.

    Vietnam's record came under fire from several countries during its review Wednesday in Geneva.  The recommendations were released Friday and Hanoi has until June to respond.

    Many of the diplomats who attended the review Wednesday condemned Hanoi's continued restrictions on freedom of expression.

    "Vietnam still harasses and detains those who exercise universal rights and freedoms, such as freedom of expression and association," U.S. representative Peter Mulrean told the assembly.

    He was one of 106 diplomats who spoke at the review, which all 193 U.N. countries must undergo every four years.

    Vietnamese Vice Foreign Minister Ha Kim Ngoc defended his country's record and said it was going out of its way to encourage the "diverse emergence of the press and mass media, including the Internet."

    Sweden's Anna Jakenberg Brinck criticized "an increase in regulations to control the Internet," saying "at least 58 people have been arrested or sentenced to prison under "vague provisions of 'national security offences' for exercising their right to freedom of expression on the Internet" since 2009.

    In a Skype interview with VOA Vietnamese, Trinh Huu Long, a human rights lawyer from Vietnam participating the UPR session, said that although he was not surprised, he was disappointed with Hanoi’s rejection of criticism.

    "Vietnam’s responses were vague and general.  They tried to defend and justify their widely known dull human rights records," said Long.

    Last year, Vietnam was chosen to join the U.N. rights body in a move that angered many activists, who said Hanoi should first improve its own record.

    This report was produced in collaboration with the VOA Vietnamese service.

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