Activists Criticize Vietnam’s Election to UN Rights Council

International human rights groups are voicing concern over Vietnam’s election to the United Nations Human Rights Council.

Phil Robertson, deputy director of Human Rights Watch’s Asia division, said he believes Vietnam, which became one of 14 new members on Tuesday, will play a negative role.

“I hope the government of Vietnam will prove me wrong, but up to date we haven’t seen any sort of indication that the government of Vietnam is going to change its policies because the election to the Human Rights Council,” he said.

Vo Van Ai, president of the Paris-based Vietnam Committee on Human Rights, told VOA’s Vietnamese service there could be a upside to the country’s inclusion on the council.

“Although Vietnam’s joining the U.N. Human Rights Council is something negative and adverse, we think this might have a ‘positive’ effect, in that, from now on, Vietnam’s rights violations will be effectively exposed for the international community to see how a U.N. HR Council member like Vietnam represses human rights.”

Vietnam received 184 votes of a total of 193, the highest among the candidates for seats on the council.

Vietnamese state media quote Foreign Minister Pham Binh Minh as saying, “The fact that Vietnam has the highest votes can be seen as recognition by the international community for the country’s recent achievements in exercising civil, political, economic, cultural and social rights.”