January 16, 2019
Today, Senator Thanh Hai Ngo issued the following Statement regarding Vietnam’s upcoming Universal Periodic Review (UPR) before the United Nations Human Rights Council (OHCHR) on January 22, 2019:
“Vietnam’s upcoming Universal Periodic Review is a significant opportunity for Canada to take a stronger stance on the dire human rights situation in Vietnam. Basic civil and political rights, including freedom of expression, association, and peaceful public assembly, remain severely restricted in Vietnam. As early as 2018, over 100 known peaceful activists and human rights defenders were arrested and received lengthy jail sentences for exercising their freedom of expression.
“Since Vietnam’s last UPR in 2014, the Vietnamese Communist Party has intensified its crackdown on freedom of expression and any online criticism of the government. In light of this lack of progress, Canada must urge Vietnam to take action on the following key recommendations to improve its human rights situation and fulfil its human rights obligations:
- Ratify the UN Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment, to which it is a signatory.
- Repeal its new Cybersecurity Law or related legislation concerning cyber security, which imposes severe online censorship to quell dissent and criminalize free speech.
- Amend security provisions that criminalize free speech, particularly articles 79 and 88 of the Vietnamese Penal Code, in accordance with its international treaty obligations.
- Immediately release all democratic activists, including Tran Huynh Duy Thuc, Nguyen Dinh Thanh, Bui Hieu Vo, Tran Hoang Phuc, Vu Quang Thuan, Nguyen Van Dien, Nguyen Viet Dung, and Vuong Van Tha, among others.
- Cease prohibiting independent and privately owned media outlets from operating.
- Allow the establishment and operation of independent labor unions, human rights organizations and political parties, including the Brotherhood for Democracy.
- Cease preventing convicted activists from receiving fair access to legal and consular services.
- Cease restricting religious practice through legislation, intrusive registration requirements, intimidation, forced renunciation of faith, and harassing surveillance, particularly against the Cao Dai Church, Hoa Hao Buddhist Church, independent Protestant and Catholic churches, Khmer Krom Buddhist temples and the Unified Buddhist Church of Vietnam (UBCV).
- Release the UBCV Patriarch Thich Quang Do, who has reportedly been taken away from his residence and followers against his will.
“As of January 1, 2019, there is no safe place in Vietnam for people to express their opinion without facing harsh retaliation from the authorities. It is therefore Canada’s duty to provide key recommendations that give a full appraisal of the current human rights situation in Vietnam. Canada also has a specific responsibility to raise its deep concerns about Vietnam’s Cybersecurity Law in Geneva based on the side-letter agreement on E-Commerce it signed with Vietnam in connection to the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP).”
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