Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Administrative probation measure repealed

Vietnam President Nguyen Minh Triet signed last week a decree to abolish "administrative probation", which has been used to hold people suspected of "national security crimes", according to a National Assembly official. Approximately 200 dissidents have been subjected to a kind of house arrest under this repealed 1997 legislation, known as Decree 31.

According to Ben Stocking of AP, the decree "had allowed provincial governors to impose a probation of up to two years on those who 'violate the laws, harming national security, but not so serious as to justify prosecution.'" A Vietnam government report last September acknowledged: "Some regulations in the decree intruded upon the rights of people guaranteed by the Constitution."

The repeal was welcomed by analysts and Western diplomats, but they also noted the action could prove to be largely symbolic:

"This measure has attracted the most criticism from human rights groups, and getting rid of it is a positive step," said Carl Thayer, a Vietnam expert at the Australian Defence Force Academy. "But does it necessarily improve the ability of dissidents to operate in Vietnam? No."

The repeal comes at a time when a major crackdown on dissidents is reported to be taking place in the country.

Source: Associated Press [Ben Stocking]/International Herald Tribune, March 28.


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