Sunday, January 25, 2009

Human Rights Watch annual report issued

Human Rights Watch protested the detention and harsh treatment of some 400 political prisoners in Vietnam, along with other forms of repression, in the Vietnam chapter of its annual worldwide report released on Jan. 14. It said the Vietnam government "continues to crackdown on democracy activists, journalists, human rights defenders, cyber-dissidents, and members of unsanctioned religious organizations." On prison conditions it stated: "Prisoners are placed in solitary confinement in dark, unsanitary cells, and there is compelling evidence of torture and ill-treatment of political prisoners, including beatings and electric shock. Credible sources report the use of forced prison labor in a cashew processing facility at Xuan Loc prison, where many political prisoners are imprisoned."

Other concerns raised in the report include lack of due process in political trials; persecution of members of unauthorized religious organizations, labor union activists, independente journalists, land rights demonstrators, ethnic minorities and others. In general the report described a lack of the most basic freedoms, such as freedom of the press, association, assembly and religion.

It reported specific legal measures which has been used to increase repression in the country: Decree 88 "provides for strict government control of associations, which effectively serve as agencies of government ministries or the Vietnamese Communist Party;" "laws such as Ordinance 44 authorize the detention without trial of dissidents at 'social protection centers' and psychiatric facilities if they are deemed to have violated national security laws;" legislation governing religious policy "requires that religious groups register with the government."

On the rights of women and children, it said:

"Vietnam continues to be a source of and transit point for women and girls trafficked for forced prostitution, fraudulent marriages, and forced domestic servitude to other parts of Asia. Sex workers, trafficking victims, street children, and street peddlers-officially classified by the government as 'social evils'-are routinely rounded up and detained without warrants in compulsory 'rehabilitation' centers, where they are subject to beatings and sexual abuse."

The report noted efforts of the U.S. and European Union nations to intervene for more positive human rights progress in Vietnam.

Sources: Vietnam chapter of the Human Rights Watch World Report 2009 can be found here. The full text of the report can be found here.


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