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2014-07-22

ASIA/VIETNAM - "UN expert on religious freedom will visit Viet Nam to assess the situation in the country"

Hanoi (Agenzia Fides) - United Nations Special Rapporteur Heiner Bielefeldt, will visit Viet Nam from 21 to 31 July 2014, "to assess the situation in the country and meet all religious communities": This is what is reported by NGOs and associations and human rights activists such as "Christian Solidarity Worldwide" (CSW). In a note sent to Fides, the NGO recalls criticisms and concerns raised by the new decree which regulates religious affairs, the so-called "Decree 92", which leaves rather arbitrary powers to government officials.
The Special Rapporteur will visit a country to learn more about the local situation, with regard to the promotion and protection of freedom of religion, the emerging obstacles to the enjoyment of the right to freedom of religion. During his visit Bielefeldt will meet with various government officials and local authorities as well as with representatives of religious communities and civil society organizations. At the end of the visit the expert will share with the media his preliminary findings during a press conference on 31 July 2014, and will present a report containing his conclusions and recommendations to the UN Human Rights Council at a future session in 2015.
According to a research carried out by the CSW, in 2013 and 2014, violations of religious freedom and the abuse of religious communities in Viet nam include harassment, intimidation and intrusive monitoring, arrests, torture and extrajudicial killings. The victims are both the "new converts", and members of religious communities of ancient tradition, such as Protestants, Catholics, Hoa Hao Buddhists, Muslims, other Buddhists, followers of Cao.
CSW shares the concerns expressed by religious leaders on Decree 92 on activities, "which contains a vague and ambiguous terminology, and lays the groundwork for the introduction of new bureaucratic obstacles to peaceful and legal activities of the believers". He also draws attention to the grave violations of freedom on the Protestant Christian communities in the central and north-west highlands, and on Catholic communities in various parts of the country. (PA) (Agenzia Fides 22/07/2014)

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