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.

Deputy PM visits Canada to seek stronger co-operation

Deputy Prime Minister Vu Van Ninh is paying an official visit to Canada, from December 2-4, as he seeks to strengthen relations between both countries.



Deputy Prime Minister Vu Van Ninh meets with Canadian Governor General David Johnston yesterday in Ottawa, Canada. 



On Monday, the Deputy PM met Governor General David Johnston, Speakers of the Canadian Senate Noel Kinsella and House of Commons Andrew Scheer, Minister of Citizenship and Immigration Chris Alexander, and Minister of State for Finance Kevin Sorenson.

At the meetings, discussions concerned measures to increase bilateral friendship and future cooperation in all fields, while sharing their views on a number of regional and international matters of mutual concern.

Those attending the meetings also expressed their pleasure at the development of bilateral ties, 40 years after establishing diplomatic relations.

Deputy PM Ninh reiterated that Viet Nam attaches much importance to developing a long-standing, sustainable and comprehensive strategic partnership with Canada.

He proposed the two sides increase exchanges of delegations and step up cooperation in areas such as trade, agriculture, energy, oil and gas, science and technology, as well as education and labour.

He also voiced his desire to increase meetings between the two parliaments and people in order to further deepen mutual understanding and enhance friendship.

The Deputy PM further proposed that the Canadian Government and parliament create more favourable conditions for the Vietnamese community to better integrate into Canadian society.

Viet Nam supports Canada's efforts in strengthening relations with ASEAN member countries and those in the Asia-Pacific region, he added.

For their part, the Canadians lauded Viet Nam's success in socio-economic development and international integration, affirming Canada's interest in boosting ties with Viet Nam as part of its general policy for the Asia-Pacific region.

Canadian Governor General David Johnston confirmed that the country is keen on forging cooperation with Viet Nam through bilateral and multilateral cooperation frameworks such as APEC and the future Trans-Pacific Partnership, in order to facilitate trade and investment ties in the coming years.

Meanwhile, the Speaker of the Canadian Senate, Noel Kinsella, emphasised the potential for significant cooperation the two countries have in human resources training and new energy technologies.

During his stay in Ottawa, Deputy PM Ninh also met the staff of the Vietnamese Embassy before leaving for Toronto.

ASEAN Community looks to coming years

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the UN Development Programme (UNDP) jointly opened a seminar on orientations for building the ASEAN Community beyond 2015 in Ha Noi yesterday, Dec 3.

Attending the event are ASEAN Secretary-General Le Luong Minh and UNDP Country Director in Viet Nam Louise Chamberlain, among others.

In his opening remarks, Deputy Foreign Minister Pham Quang Vinh reviewed the operations of ASEAN over the past 46 years, saying that the group had seen significant development from a five-member association with loose co-operation to a bloc of 10 countries in Southeast Asia

In particular, the ASEAN Charter had created a legal foundation and an institutional mechanism for the association to enhance regional links, with its immediate goal of forming the ASEAN Community based on three pillars by 2015, he said.

According to Vinh, the bloc had proved its increasingly active and proactive role in handling important and strategic issues in the region, while being flexible, dynamic and quick to adapting to change.

Although its members were only small- and medium-sized countries, ASEAN was attractive to many important partners in the region and the world, he said.

It had established and promoted its core role in an evolving regional architecture in order to foster and maintain an environment of security, peace, stability and development in the region, he added.

However, the Deputy FM stressed that ASEAN faced a lot of challenges, such as differences in strategic priorities and national capacities of member countries, territorial disputes and conflicts among countries, as well as common security challenges in the region, both traditional and non-traditional, including the East Sea, the Korean Peninsula, climate change, natural disasters and epidemics.

The increasing intervention of major countries had created favourable conditions for ASEAN to develop, but also posed many challenges such as building trust and overcoming suspicions and narrow-minded self-interests that could greatly impact on the solidarity and central role of ASEAN in the regional architecture.

Vinh said the vision beyond 2015 must ensure the continuation of the ASEAN Community road map. The vision must deal with both short- and middle-term objectives as well as a long-term plan, including major goals and ideals that ASEAN should target in the decades after 2015.

These goals would play an orientating role and serve as a driving force for ASEAN's development, he noted.

UNDP Country Director Louise Chamberlain congratulated ASEAN on its satisfactory progress in building the ASEAN Community based on the three pillars of politics-security, economics and socio-culture.

She spoke highly of Viet Nam's role in multilateral forums and hoped it would play a greater role in the post-2015 agenda.

At the event, ASEAN Secretary-General Le Luong Minh stated that after the formation of the Community, ASEAN would be part of the broader free market of East Asia, including the ASEAN Community and its 10 member states and six trade partners.

This market will have a population of 3.3 billion and account for one third of global GDP.

In this context, ASEAN economies would have great opportunities to maintain growth and sustain development, he said.

He stressed that since it joined ASEAN, Viet Nam had devoted many initiatives to the building of the ASEAN Community as well as contributed to maintaining peace and stability in the region.

In the economic field, Viet Nam had implemented measures set in the ASEAN Community road map at a high rate, he said, adding that it had made one of the greatest contributions to building the community.

During the two-day seminar, participants are scheduled to discuss the ASEAN Community building process and major orientations beyond 2015, and ASEAN Political-Security, Economic and Socio-Cultural Communities.

Belarus, VN boast huge co-operation potential

Huge potential for Belarus and Viet Nam to expand their co-operation remained, especially in economics, trade and science and technology, said Speaker of the Council of the Republic (Upper House) of the Belarusian National Assembly Anatoli Rubinov.

During talks with visiting Vietnamese NA Vice Chairman Huynh Ngoc Son on Monday, Rubinov affirmed the Belarusian NA's commitment to supporting a free trade agreement between Viet Nam and the Customs Union of Russia, Belarus and Kazakhstan.

Son briefed his host on the outcomes of the recent sixth session of the 13th National Assembly with the adoption of the revised 1992 Constitution.

In regards to the East Sea issue, Son reiterated Viet Nam's consistent stance of solving relevant issues by peaceful means in accordance with international law, adding that he hoped Belarus would back Viet Nam on the issue.

Indochinese Fatherland Fronts strengthen ties

The fatherland fronts of Vietnam, Cambodia and Laos will effectively implement their tripartite memorandum of understanding as so to boost cooperation in various areas, spanning politics, trade, society, tourism, culture, and science.

The agreement was reached at a meeting in Phnom Penh on December 2 between Solidarity Front for Development of the Cambodian Motherland Chairman Heng Samrin, Vietnam Fatherland Front (VFF) Central Committee President Nguyen Thien Nhan and Lao Front for National Construction Central Committee Chairman Phanh Duongchet Vongsa.

Heng Samrin, who is also Cambodian National Assembly President, welcomed Nhan and Vongsa, acknowledging the 35th founding anniversary of the Cambodian United Front for National Salvation and the inauguration of a monument commemorating fallen soldiers.

He emphasised the venerable history of solidarity, friendship, and cooperation between the three Indochinese countries, consolidated through past freedom and independence and the ongoing process of development.

Samrin thanked Vietnam and Laos for their assistance during Cambodia’s national construction and development, and their contribution to the inaugurated commemorative monument.

VFF Central Committee President Nguyen Thien Nhan said addressing border issues promptly will ensure the three countries maintain peace and stability in the interests of economic development, poverty reduction, and better living conditions for their citizens.

Nhan outlined preparations for a ceremony that will mark the January 7, 1979 victory against Pol Pot’s genocidal regime and the Vietnam People’s Army’s 69th founding anniversary (December 22).

Vongsa concurred with Samrin and Nhan on the wisdom of encouraging fostering inter-front cooperation to reinforce the friendship between Laos, Vietnam, and Cambodia.

President makes clear issues of public concern

President Truong Tan Sang made clear issues of public concern while meeting with 300 voters in district 4, Ho Chi Minh City on December 3.

Featuring high were issues like anti-corruption, supervision of State-owned enterprises, drawbacks in education and health care sector, inflation, salary and State officials’ income, and crime.

Sharing the view that the Party and State should crack down on graft and corruption, a majority of voters said the National Assembly should closely oversee legal procedures so as to minimise miscarriages of justice while working hard on electricity, hydropower generation, health insurance and crime fight.

As for how to root out acts of corruption, NA deputy Tran Du Lich said there should be a transparent mechanism with specific regulations by supplementing more laws.

According to him, the legislature asked the power sector to publicise its expenses in the time to come. The State will issue a law on capital investment tailored to the State-run groups and corporations to require them to focus on their own core areas.

President Sang informed voters that the Central Steering Board for Corruption Prevention and Control has acted quickly on delayed cases and uncovered 60 new cases in localities.

The leader lauded judicial bodies for bringing unjust cases to trial again and encouraged voters to do all they can to bring more wrongdoings to light.

He also pressed for a stop to individuals and organisations offending with impunity.

Vietnam-Thailand Friendship Assoc holds congress

The Vietnam-Thailand Friendship Association on December 3 held the 4 th National Congress in Hanoi to review its operations over the past and work out action plans for the 2013-2018 tenure.

Speaking at the event, Secretary General of the Vietnam Union of Friendship Organisations Nguyen Thi Hoang Van hailed the association for its contributions over the past five years to enhance the friendship and people-to-people exchanges between the two countries.

She suggested the association make further efforts and promote its creativity to organise various practical activities to boost people-to-people cooperation in economics, trade, science-technology-environment, education-training, culture and tourism.

Thai Ambassador to Vietnam Anuson Chinvanno highlighted the congress as a significant event, especially after the two countries’ leaders agreed to elevate bilateral relations to a strategic partnership, which opens up new prospects for bilateral cooperative ties for the sake of the two peoples and regional peace, stability and development.

During the congress, delegates elected an executive board of 29 members. Former Minister of Fisheries Ta Quang Ngoc was re-elected as President of the association.