New Constitution clarifies human and citizen rights

Vietnam’s viewpoint on the recognition, respect, protection and guarantee of human rights as well as the fundamental rights and obligations of citizens has been firmly clarified in the amended Constitution, which was passed by almost all of legislators in November last year and was enforced on the first day of 2014.
According to NA Vice Chairman Uong Chu Luu, who is also Vice Chairman of the Committee for Drafting Amendments to the 1992 Constitution, the 2013 Constitution has been designed to prevent any violation and limitation of citizens’ rights.
He affirmed that all basic civil, economic, cultural, and social rights and obligations of citizens are stipulated by the Constitution, and any limitation of rights must be specified by law.
He pointed to Article 14, Chapter II of the 2013 Constitution which says, “In the Socialist Republic of Vietnam, human rights and citizens' rights in the political, civil, economic, cultural and social fields shall be recognised, respected, protected and guaranteed in accordance with the Constitution and law,” and “Human rights and citizens' rights may not be limited unless prescribed by a law solely in case of necessity for reasons of national defense, national security, social order and safety, social morality and community well-being.”
Though this specific stipulation, the revised Constitution has created a firm legal foundation for all people to protect and practice their rights, he added.
Mentioning the new points of the Constitution, Associate Professor Le Minh Thong, Deputy Chairman of the NA Law Committee, said the document moves the contents of citizen rights from Chapter V to Chapter II, which demonstrates a great change in awareness of the State towards the guarantee of human rights and citizen rights following the model of a law-governed socialist state.
The specification of human rights and added content on citizens’ rights is based on the outcome of human development efforts through nearly 30 years of the country’s renewal, he emphasised.
This is not merely a step forward in terms of law-making, but also spreads a clear message that the Party, Government and nation of Vietnam respect, acknowledge, and guarantee human rights and citizen rights in line with international conventions that Vietnam is involved in.
Meanwhile, Ngo Trung Thanh, head of the Law Department of the NA Office, said the content related to human rights and citizen rights received feedback from 7.5 million people from all walks of life, most of whom agreed with and welcomed the amendments in this area.
In addition, chapters stipulating issues related to the Government, the People’s Procuracy and People’s Court clarify the responsibility of ensuring human rights and the rights of citizens, he noted.
At the same time, Associate Prof. Hoang The Lien, Deputy Minister of Justice, held that in order for the revised Constitution to be applicable in reality, it is crucial to perfect the country’s legal system, especially regulations on human rights and the rights of citizens.
Ministries and sectors should promptly design a law-building programme to ensure the implementation of the amended Constitution, he said.
In addition, state agencies should also be aware of their responsibility in publicising the new content of the document and its implementation, he added.
The amendments concerning human rights are a specific move demonstrating Vietnam’s commitment to realising International Covenants on Civil and Political Rights and on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, as well as the 1948 Human Rights Declaration.
For this reason, lawmakers consider the amended Constitution a move in the right direction for Vietnam, enabling the country to fulfill its obligations and commitments as a member of the United Nations Human Rights Council for the 2014-2016 tenure.