Ottawa, June 17, 2015
The Subcommittee on International Human Rights of the Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs and International Development today issued a statement concerning the human rights situation in Vietnam, focusing specifically on the situation of religious minorities in that country. The statement reads as follows:
The Subcommittee on International Human Rights of the House of Commons Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs and International Development (the Subcommittee) has recently held hearings about the human rights situation in Vietnam. The Subcommittee heard from:
• Dr. Can Le, Commissioner for External Affairs, Vietnamese Canadian Federation;
• Ms. Khue-Tu Nguyen, Commissioner for Human Rights, Vietnamese Canadian Federation;
• Dr. Thang Nguyen, President and Chief Executive Officer of Boat People SOS;
• Mr. Diem Do, Chairman, Viet Tan;
• Mr. Manh Hung Pham;
• Mr. Dai Nguyen Van, Vice Director, Brotherhood for Democracy;
• Ms. Thi Minh Hanh Do, Member, Viet Labour;
• Mr. Bac Truyen Nguyen, Member, Vietnamese Political & Religious Prisoners Friendship Association;
• Ms. Trinh Nguyen, Communications Director and Organizer, Viet Tan;
• Mr. Hung Nguyen, Revered, Interfaith Council of Vietnam;
• Mr. Minh Tam Truong; and
• Mr. Dieu Cay.
There are approximately 220,000 persons of Vietnamese descent in Canada. Many members of the Vietnamese-Canadian community attended the Subcommittee’s hearings. The Subcommittee welcomes the active engagement of the Vietnamese-Canadian community and commends their resolve to improve the human rights situation in Vietnam; it also acknowledges the important contributions their representatives made to the Subcommittee’s study.
The Subcommittee’s hearings left its members deeply concerned about the lack of respect for internationally protected human rights in Vietnam, particularly civil and political rights. The Subcommittee received substantial, consistent testimony regarding violations of civil and political rights by the Government of Vietnam.
Based on the evidence heard to date, the Subcommittee is particularly troubled by:
• Physical attacks against bloggers, journalists, human rights defenders and political activists, leaders and members of unregistered religious congregations, as well as the arbitrary detention and disproportionate sentences such persons may receive for exercising their democratic rights.
• Credible reports of cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment and torture, as well as a lack of respect for human dignity in Vietnamese prisons.
• Harassment and imprisonment of religious leaders and communities that fail to register with the government.
• The prohibition against the formation of independent labour unions.
• Violations of the right to a fair trial, including the absence of an independent judiciary.
Accordingly, the Subcommittee:
• Reminds the Government of Vietnam that it is responsible for upholding the human rights and fundamental freedoms of all persons in Vietnam, including its obligations as a state party to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.
• Strongly condemns all harassment and attacks against bloggers, journalists, human rights defenders, political activists and members of unregistered religious congregations.
• Expresses its concern over the arbitrary arrest, detention and disproportionately harsh sentencing of Vietnamese citizens who peacefully exercise their rights to freedom of opinion and expression; freedom of religion and belief; and freedom of assembly and association.
• Calls on the Government of Vietnam to amend the provisions concerning offences against national security which could restrict freedom of expression, including on the Internet, particularly articles 79, 88 and 258 of the Penal Code.
• Calls upon the Government of Vietnam to guarantee its citizens’ right to a fair and public trial before an independent and impartial tribunal established by law, which includes the right to be presumed innocent until proven guilty, the right to communicate with counsel of one’s own choosing and the right to be able to make full answer and defence to criminal charges, and not to be compelled to confess guilt.
• Further calls upon the Government of Vietnam to unconditionally release all individuals who have been imprisoned for exercising their democratic rights, including, but not limited to:
- Dang Xuan Dieu;
- Tran Huynh Duy Thuc;
- Ta Phong Tan;
- Dinh Nguyen Kha;
- Can Thi Theu;
- Le Thanh Tung;
- Nguyen Huu Vinh;
- Bui Thi Minh Hang;
- Tran Vu Anh Binh;
- Vo Minh Tri;
- Nguyen Dang Minh Man;
- Ho Thi Bich Khuong;
- Doan Van Vuon;
- Doan Dinh Nam;
- Doan Huy Chuong;
- Nguyen Hoang Quoc Hung; and
- Ho Duc Hoa.
• Insists that the Government of Vietnam implement the voluntary pledges and commitments it undertook when joining the United Nations Human Rights Council, particularly those which concern improvements to the legal and judicial system and training aimed at improving the ability of law enforcement agents to protect, respect and ensure the full range of the Vietnamese peoples’ human rights.
• Encourages the Government of Canada to consider ways in which the Trans-Pacific Partnership negotiations could contribute to improving the human rights situation in Vietnam.
• Further encourages Canada’s Ambassador for Religious Freedom to monitor respect for religious freedom in Vietnam.
For more information, please contact:
Mike MacPherson, Clerk of the Subcommittee on International Human Rights of the Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs and International Development
Source: Parliament of Canada