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CSW raises concerns on religious freedom, use of torture

21 Jan 2019

CSW has reiterated calls on the government of Vietnam to protect religious freedom and end its use of torture ahead of a review of the country’s human rights record at the UN on 22 January.

The review will take place under the UN Universal Periodic Review (UPR), a process by which UN member states have their human rights record reviewed every four and a half years, and it presents a valuable opportunity to draw attention to human rights issues. 

As part of the UPR process, CSW submitted information drawing attention to grave violations of the right to freedom of religion or belief (FoRB) in the country, including abuses against ethnic minority Christians.

CSW’s Chief Executive Mervyn Thomas said: “It is essential that this review of Vietnam’s human rights record addresses the serious and ongoing violations against religious communities in Vietnam. For decades, Christians in the most remote areas have suffered violent abuse and pressure to recant their faith. Although there have been positive changes and new opportunities for urban churches, the situation in rural areas looks very different. Furthermore, individuals who courageously defend the right to freedom of religion or belief, like Protestant Pastor Nguyen Trung Ton and Buddhist legal expert Nguyen Bac Truyen, have been arrested and imprisoned. We urge the government of Vietnam to uphold the right to freedom or religion or belief for people of all faiths and none, and to release those detained for advocating for this right.”

CSW’s report details violations against Buddhists, Catholics, Cao Daists, Hoa Hao Buddhists, Protestants and Muslims, including intimidation, forced eviction, intrusive surveillance, disruption of religious services and confiscation of religious materials.

“During the reporting period there have been numerous violations of the right to FoRB in Vietnam, which contravene Vietnam’s domestic law and international human rights treaties. Furthermore, those who defend the right to freedom of religion or belief and other universal human rights have been subject to harassment, assault, arrest, torture, imprisonment, and even extra-judicial killings.”

The report also notes that although the situation for religious communities varies widely between different regions, those in remote areas belonging to ethnic minorities are particularly at risk of violations. The report also notes that the new Law on Belief and Religion which came into effect on 1 January 2018 has been criticised by religious communities, lawyers and human rights defenders for interfering in the internal affairs of religious organisations. CSW makes a number of recommendations, including that the government of Vietnam revises all regulations and legislation pertaining to religion to ensure they align with international standards, releases all prisoners of conscience detained in connection with their religion or belief immediately, and ensures that all forms of torture and ill-treatment cease immediately.

Notes to Editors:

1.       Click here to read CSW’s statement on Vietnam ahead of the 32nd UPR.



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