Việt Nam calls out flaws in US int'l religious report

May 18, 2023 - 16:56
These rights are prescribed in the 2013 Constitution the 2016 Law on Belief and Religion as well as other relevant legal documents, and these rights have been upheld in practice, the diplomat said.


Theravada Buddhist Khmer people in Việt Nam's southern province of Hậu Giang taking part in the Kathina ceremony, an offering of robes to Buddhist monks, held each year from the 15th day of the 9th lunar month to the next full-moon day. — VNA/VNS Photo

HÀ NỘI — The Vietnamese foreign ministry on Thursday criticised the use of 'unverified, incorrect information on the situation in Việt Nam" in the United States International Religious Freedom Report 2022 as well as the annual report of the United States Commission on International Religious Freedom.

Deputy spokesperson for the foreign ministry Phạm Thu Hằng, during the regular press conference in Hà Nội, stressed: "As a multi-ethnic country with diverse religious life, the State of Việt Nam consistently implemented the policy of respecting and ensuring the freedom of religion and the right to follow or not follow a religion, ensuring equality and non-discrimination based on religious beliefs."

"Religious organisations activities are also protected under the law," Hằng noted.

These rights are prescribed in the 2013 Constitution the 2016 Law on Belief and Religion as well as other relevant legal documents, and these rights have been upheld in practice, the diplomat said.

Hằng said that while both these reports from the US, released in May this year, have recognised Việt Nam's certain progress in promoting religious freedom and referenced official information from Vietnamese Government agencies, but still made "unobjective assessments" based on unproven, erroneous information on the situation in the country.

The foreign ministry's representative also reiterated that Việt Nam is willing and ready to discuss with the US pressing issues of mutual interest, "on the basis of openness, candour, and mutual respect, to contribute to the strengthening of the comprehensive partnership between two countries."

Trafficking case

A question on the rescue of over a thousand people, which included Vietnamese citizens, in a police anti-trafficking operation in a city in the Philippines in early May, was also raised at the briefing.

Hằng said the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Vietnamese embassy in the Philippines are working closely with local competent authorities to determine the residential status of these labourers as well as working to provide information to help local authorities come up with solutions to address and investigate this case, so that together citizen protection measures could be promptly carried out to ensure the legitimate rights and interests of the Vietnamese citizens.

"I'd like to take this opportunity to emphasise that the Vietnamese Government's policy is to promote legal, safe and orderly migration while resolutely fighting against illegal migration human smuggling and human trafficking," the deputy spokesperson said.

Hằng stated that the Ministry of Foreign Affairs has worked with competent authorities to raise awareness among the people interested in working abroad, to caution them against false promises of 'easy work, high salary' that don't require certification, as they could potentially become victims of labour exploitation of gambling facilities, illegal residence, or even human trafficking.

Death in Japan

Asked on the death of a 29-year-old man thought to be Vietnamese while being detained at a police station in Japan's Ibaraki Prefecture in late April, the foreign ministry's deputy spokesperson said they have received the information on the incident. 

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs has directed Vietnamese diplomatic missions in Japan to continue working with local competent authorities to verify this information and report the result and to get ready to provide necessary protection measures to ensure the rights and interests of the Vietnamese national, Hằng said.

The man in question was detained at the Shimotsuma police station in Ibaraki on April 20, 2023, for suspected violation of residency laws, and the police noted that at the time, he fell and injured his left shoulder.

Doctors at Tsukuba Hospital, Ibaraki, diagnosed the person with bruising and prescribed pain medication and a patch. The man's health was said to be fine, and there were no other injuries on his body.

On April 29th, he ate very little of the breakfast offered, then became unconscious and was taken to the hospital where he later died.

The Shimotsuma police station announced that they are investigating the temporary detention system, but "have not found any issues" so far. — VNS