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Constitutional changes draw comments on human rights

Update: March, 19/2013 - 09:02

Researchers commented on the 1992 Constitution amendments on human and citizenship rights at a meeting held by the United Nations Development Programme and the Legislative Research Institute.

Nguyen Linh Giang, from the Institute of State and Law

The term "human rights" was first introduced in Article 50, Chapter 5, of the 1992 Constitution of Viet Nam. But until now there has been strong debate on how to differentiate between "human rights" and "citizenship rights".

Most of the rights written in the 1992 Constitution refer to "citizenship rights", not "human rights". However, there are overlapping areas in both rights.

That's why I say the difference between these rights written in Chapter 2 of the amendments to the 1992 Constitution is a manifestation of Viet Nam's respect and resolve to turn its international commitments on human rights into a reality.

In the proposed changes, there is a clause on citizens' rights to live and not to work as a forced labourer; also, their rights to decide their nationality or their mother tongue, and to live in a sound environment.

Rights enjoyed by a Vietnamese citizen and rights enjoyed by any person who lives in Viet Nam's territory legally are clearly expressed in the Constitution amendments.

However, I realised some very important rights, including civil, political and ideological rights, are not mentioned, nor the right not to be forced to live as a slave.

Nguyen Minh Phuong, from the Ministry of Home Affairs' Institute of Science of State Organisation

The rights are regulated in a number of international legal documents on human rights as well as by constitutions of many countries, including the world declaration on human rights, the international convention on civil and political rights, and the constitutions of the US, France and Italy.

The rights are also stipulated by different constitutions of Viet Nam. The 1959 and 1980 constitutions, for example, stated that Vietnamese citizens have the rights to the freedom of speech, press, association and demonstration in line with the interests of socialism and the people.

The State created essential conditions for its citizens to use these rights and no one was allowed to abuse them to harm the interests of the State or the people.

The 1992 constitution stated that citizens have the rights to the freedom of speech, press, information, assembly, association and demonstration in line with the laws.

Analysing document structure as well as regulations about human rights in general and the freedom of assembly, association and demonstration in particular as regulated by the 1959, 1980 and 1992 constitutions, it could be seen that rights relating to socio-economy and culture are paid more attention and prioritised than civil and political rights.

Civil and political rights are not really considered as the basic inherent rights of people but as rights that are set up and oriented by the State.

As regulated by the constitution, citizens have the rights to the freedom of assembly, association and demonstration in line with related regulations but if the State has not yet issued related regulations, it will not ensure the principal of direct validity of the constitution.

In fact, legal documents guiding the adoption of these rights are not specific and comprehensive enough. Many documents remain backward but are slowly amended and supplemented. There has still not been any documents regulating the rights of demonstration.

Therefore, we propose to amend and supplement the regulation of Article 26 as follows: citizens have the rights to the freedom of speech, press, assembly, association and demonstration.

We suggest to delete the phrase "in line with legal regulations".

Certainly, the State must issue regulations to regulate citizens' activities when they perform these rights. On the other hand, if the State wants to manage citizens' activities to perform their rights, the State must issue laws. It should not be that citizens must wait until the State issues laws to perform these rights. — VNS

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