Vietnam reviews human rights laws

A report released by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the UN Development Programme (UNDP) has emphasised the importance of adapting local laws to comply with international norms.

The findings were released yesterday as part of the Universal Periodic Review (UPR) undertaken by the United Nations Human Rights Council to improve the promotion and protection of human rights.

“Viet Nam will continue developing laws to better promote and protect the rights and fundamental freedoms of the people, making sure that national law is compliant with international law and norms.”

The report also addressed other priority areas for the Government, including access to social security, improvements to education, healthcare, gender equality and international co-operation.

The report also contains Viet Nam’s response to nearly 100 recommendations from other countries in addition to advancements made by the country during the past four years, including in the areas of freedom of expression, religion, and the rights of minority groups.

Speaking at the launch, head of the ministry’s International Organisations Department Hoang Chi Trung said that since late last year, Viet Nam’s Government had established a board, data collection procedures and conducted consultations with citizens, civil societies and non-governmental organisations.

The report provides the international community with an overview of the nation’s human rights record and areas where progress is being made, he said.

“However, the report does not include the adoption of the revised Constitution and Land Law – two of the most important laws in Viet Nam approved by the National Assembly late last month,” he said.

The department head also said the report did not contain Viet Nam’s ratification of the United Nations Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhumane or Degrading Treatment or Punishment.

UN Resident Co-ordinator Pratibha Mehta said one of the most important benefits of the UPR mechanism was that it provided an inclusive platform for all stakeholders to come together and identify strengths and gaps in the human rights protection system, and to identify solutions to overcome remaining challenges.

She also suggested the country should consider the establishment of a National Human Rights Institution and ensure participation from all groups of society when it started working as a member of the UN Human Rights Council next year.

The Universal Periodic Review (UPR) involves a review of the human rights records of all UN Member States.

The UPR is a State-driven process, under the auspices of the Human Rights Council, which provides the opportunity for each State to declare what actions they have taken to improve human rights and to meet their human rights obligations.

By October 2011, the UPR had reviewed the human rights records of all 193 UN Member States.

It is one of the key elements of the Council’s activities, aiming to drive improvements in the enforcement of human rights and address violations.

Viet Nam had its first national report under UPR in 2009.