Vietnam has countered a human rights report that accuses the country of increasing cases of police brutality.
In a statement posted to the foreign ministry website Thursday, spokeswoman Tran Thi Bich Van says Vietnam has a "firm commitment" against all forms of torture or cruel treatments. She adds that those who engage in abuse will be strictly punished in accordance with Vietnamese laws.
Earlier this week, the New York-based group Human Rights Watch (HRW) issued a report citing dozens of cases in which ordinary Vietnamese have been tortured, injured or killed in police custody.
The report added that deaths have often occurred when police used violence and torture to force confessions.
HRW Asia Deputy Director Phil Robertson tells VOA's Vietnamese service that Vietnam’s laws, when it comes to protecting human rights, are "totally deficient."
“This is the report that was based on state-sanctioned news media sources," said Robertson. "This is not something that the government of Vietnam can deny. And the fact that the problem is so systematic and pervasive indicates that Vietnam government has been doing very little to tackle the issue. ... What we’ve found proves that their commitment is weak or non-existent.”
Lawyer Vo An Don from Phu Yen Lawyers' Association says the HRW report is accurate. Vo represents the relatives of a man allegedly beaten to death by police in 2012.
"Take the case in Phu Yen for example in which I’m the defense lawyer for the victim, there are so many violations in the due process naming from using the wrong charges to overlooking the committed crimes and ignoring many of those who committed crimes," said Vo.
He adds that Vietnam lacks strict laws and punishment for police who injure or kill people are very light.
This report was produced in collaboration with the VOA Vietnamese service.