|Spokesperson for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs Lê Thị Thu Hằng speaks to reporters during the Thursday press conference in Hà Nội. — VNA/VNS Photo Văn Điệp|
HÀ NỘI — The Ministry of Foreign Affairs is working on providing information to raise Vietnamese citizens’ awareness of local laws and practices when travelling or working abroad, following a recent spate of alleged serious violations committed overseas.
Spokesperson for the ministry Lê Thị Thu Hằng made the call on Thursday as she was addressing the press questions over the two cases that have drawn a great deal of public attention – one the alleged rape of an underage girl in Spain involving high-profile artists, and another concerning the arrests of dozens of Vietnamese in a drug party in South Korea.
Concerning the Spain case, spokesperson Hằng said the Vietnamese embassy has been closely following the developments and stands ready to implement necessary citizen protection measures in line with the regulations of the laws of Spain and Việt Nam.
The two male artists were detained by Spanish authorities (now released on bail), and the police are still collecting evidence and information to serve the investigation into their alleged raping of a 17-year-old British girl in the resort island of Mallorca on June 25, 2022, according to the embassy.
Hằng said the two citizens are in normal health conditions and are receiving necessary legal assistance as per regulations.
“The information and updates pertaining to the case, especially citizen protection, will be provided by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in accordance with the mandate and authority delegated to the ministry,” Hằng noted.
Regarding the arrests of Vietnamese citizens in South Korea, Hằng said after the reports surfaced, the Vietnamese representatives in South Korea swiftly contacted the national police to verify the case and asked the South Koreans to ensure the legitimate rights and interests of the Vietnamese citizens.
Initial reports indicated that 33 persons were arrested in a drug bust – with four already transferred into South Korean citizenship, and the remaining being Vietnamese nationals illegally staying in South Korea.
The South Korean immigration authorities are detaining the illegal residents and are working on procedures to deport them back to Việt Nam, the spokesperson said.
The foreign ministry has instructed the Vietnamese embassy in South Korea to closely watch the incident and frequently keep in contact with South Korean authorities for updates and to quickly provide citizen protection measures in line with the regulations of both countries, according to Hằng.
“I want to use this occasion to note that in recent years, the number of Vietnamese going abroad for travelling, work, or studying has been constantly increasing,” Hằng said, adding that most have observed the host countries’ laws, creating good impressions of Việt Nam and Vietnamese people in the local community.
“However, there is still a minority of Vietnamese nationals who have violated the local laws," she added.
"The Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Vietnamese representatives overseas have been closely keeping in contact with both local authorities and Vietnamese authorities to enact necessary citizen protection measures.
“We are also requesting cooperation with local authorities to handle the cases and address the issue, including stepping up the reviewing and punishing of violations, beefing up information dissemination works to raise awareness of citizens’ laws and practices,” Hằng said, adding that they are warning Vietnamese nationals to avoid being taken advantage of and committing offences, thereby helping them protect their legitimate rights and interests in line with local and Vietnamese laws.
The propagation of information on law abidance also needs the essential involvement of press and media agencies, the spokesperson noted.
Forced labour in Cambodia
Spokesperson Hằng also commented on the host of reports by Vietnamese media regarding the dire forced labour situation in Cambodia involving Vietnamese victims.
Hằng said recently, under the instruction of the foreign ministry, Vietnamese representatives in Cambodia have closely cooperated with Vietnamese competent authorities – especially the local authorities of provinces sharing a border with Cambodia – as well as Cambodian competent authorities to provide assistance for struggling Vietnamese citizens in Cambodia to return home.
A task force was also set up to handle the demands and requests of the Vietnamese people, post warnings on websites and social media accounts of representative missions, and establish a hotline that is available 24/7 with Cambodian authorities to receive constant updates and support the efforts to rescue Vietnamese nationals who have fallen victims to forced labour in a timely and effective manner, Hằng said.
The Vietnamese embassy in Cambodia and the Consular Department at the foreign ministry have also set up 24/7 hotlines to receive information on the victims and other warnings, according to the spokesperson.
Hằng said that in particular, foreign affairs authorities have been working closely with Vietnamese domestic authorities as well as with the press agencies to step up information efforts and raise awareness among the people.
To date, Vietnamese and Cambodian authorities have repatriated over 400 Vietnamese people, and provided necessary guidance and intervention and legal assistance for over 1500 cases who were facing difficulties in entry and exit matters, travelling, visa extensions, or those who have violated the local laws.
The foreign ministry along with Vietnamese representatives overseas will maintain in close engagement with competent authorities in both Việt Nam and Cambodia to timely handle the forced labour cases, and to hopefully, put an end to this situation, spokesperson Hằng said. — VNS