Release political prisoners, respect rights in Vietnam: HRW

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Hanoi, July 23 (IANS) Human Rights Watch (HRW) on Monday called on the Vietnamese authorities to release political prisoners and fulfil the commitments the country made to the UN to ensure that civil rights are respected.

In a letter to the UN Human Rights Council, HRW said that Hanoi accepted 182 of the 227 recommendations made during the last UN Universal Periodic Review in 2014, but has “done little to honour its commitment” since, Efe news reported.

“Vietnamese authorities frequently use loosely interpreted provisions in its penal code and other laws to imprison peaceful political and religious activists,” HRW said.

This year alone, the government convicted and imprisoned at least 27 rights bloggers and activists, according to HRW.

The non-profit said a legal reform was passed by the country’s National Assembly in 2017, which imposed more restrictions on rights bloggers and activists and those who assist them.

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HRW also criticized the approval of a cyber security law in June that “severely restricted freedom of expression on the Internet” and said freedom of expression and association were under attack in the country.

“Vietnam seems to be contending for the title of one of Asia’s most repressive governments,” said HRW’s deputy Asia Director Phil Robertson.

“The Communist Party-controlled government systematically crushes any challenges to its actions and punishes any person or group it deems a threat to its absolute monopoly on power,” he added.

The letter to the UN Council proposed a series of recommendations before Vietnam submits its next universal periodic review in January 2019.

–IANS

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