observations of the Human Rights Committee
1. The Committee considered the second periodic report of Vietnam (CCPR/C/VNM/2001/2)
at its 2019th, 2020th and 2021st meetings, (CCPR/C/SR.2019, 2020 and
2021) held on 11 and 12 July 2002 and adopted the following concluding
observations at its 2031st meeting (CCPR/C/SR.2031) held on 19 July
2. The Committee welcomes Vietnam's second periodic report, which contains
detailed information on domestic legislation in the area of civil and
political rights, and the opportunity to resume the discussion with
the State party. The Committee welcomes the State party's decision to
send a strong delegation from its capital, composed of representatives
of various government authorities, for the examination of the report.
The Committee regrets, however, the considerable delay in the submission
of the report which was due in 1991. It also regrets the lack of information
on the human rights situation in practice, as well as the absence of
facts and data on the implementation of the Covenant. As a result, a
number of credible and substantiated allegations of violations of Covenant
provisions which have been brought to the attention of the Committee
could not be addressed effectively and the Committee found it difficult
to determine whether individuals in the State party's territory and
subject to its jurisdiction fully and effectively enjoy their fundamental
rights under the Covenant.
B. Positive aspects
3. In this regard, the Committee has noted developments within the State
party that reflect some relaxation of the political restraints that
have raised serious questions of gross violations of rights protected
by the Covenant.
4 The Committee takes note of the efforts which are being made by the
State party to reform its domestic legal order, to comply with its international,
in particular human rights commitments.
C Principal areas of concern and recommendations
5. The Committee is concerned with the status under domestic law of
the rights provided for in the Covenant, which remains unclear. It is
also concerned that certain constitutional provisions would appear to
be incompatible with the Covenant and that the Vietnamese Constitution
does not enumerate all Covenant rights, nor the extent and criteria
under which they may be limited. The Committee is concerned that according
to Vietnamese law the Covenant rights must be interpreted in such a
way which may compromise the enjoyment of these rights by all individuals.
The State party should guarantee the effective protection off all rights
enshrined in the Covenant and ensure that they are fully respected and
enjoyed by all. (article 2)
6. The Committee is concerned with the statement of the delegation that,
because persons under the jurisdiction of the State party have recourse
to national mechanisms, the State party does not need to accede to the
The State party should consider acceding to the Optional Protocol, in
order to enhance the protection of human rights afforded to persons
under its jurisdiction.
7. Notwithstanding the reduction in the number of crimes that carry
the death penalty, from 44 to 29, the Committee remains concerned with
the large number of crimes for which the death penalty may still be
imposed. The penalty does not appear to be restricted only to those
crimes that are considered as the most serious ones. In this respect,
the Committee considers that the definition of certain acts such as
opposition to order and national security violations, for which the
death penalty may be imposed, are excessively vague and are inconsistent
with article 6, paragraph 2, of the Covenant.
The State party should continue to review the list of crimes for which
the death penalty may be imposed, in order to reduce and limit these
to those which may be strictly considered as the most serious crimes
as required by article 6, paragraph 2 and with a view to abolishing
punishment in furtherance of article 6 of the Covenant.
8. Notwithstanding the information provided by the delegation that only
three persons were currently subject to administrative detention, referred
to as probation by the delegation, the Committee remains concerned with
the continued use of this practice as prescribed under decree CP-31,
since it provides for persons to be kept under house arrest for up to
2 years, without the intervention of a judge or a judicial officer.
The Committee is equally preoccupied by the provisions of Art. 71 of
the code of Criminal Procedure pursuant to which the Principal Prosecutor
may prolong the duration of the preventive detention of an individual
without time limits, "if required" and for serious offences against
The State party should ensure that no persons are subjected to arbitrary
restriction on their liberty and that all persons deprived of their
promptly brought before a judge or other officer authorised to exercise
judicial power by law and that they can only be deprived of their liberty
on the basis of a judgement based on law, as required by article 9,
paragraphs 3 and 4, of the Covenant.
9. The Committee is concerned that the judicial system remains weak
due to the scarce number of qualified professionally trained lawyers,
lack of resources for the judiciary and their susceptibility to political
pressure. The Committee is also concerned that the Supreme People' Court
is not independent of government influence. It is further concerned
that the judiciary seek the opinion of the National Assembly's Standing
Committee in regard to the interpretation of laws and that the Standing
Committee is responsible for setting criteria and instructions which
are binding for the judiciary.
In order to implement article 14 of the Covenant, the State party should
take effective measures to strengthen the judiciary and to guarantee
independence, and ensure that all allegations of undue pressure on the
judiciary are dealt with promptly.
10. The Committee is concerned with the procedures for the selection
of judges as well as their lack of security of tenure, appointments
of only four years in particular, combined with the possibility, provided
by law, of taking disciplinary measures against judges because of errors
in judicial decisions. All these expose judges to political pressure
and jeopardise their independence and impartiality.
The State party should enact procedures to be applied in judicial appointments
and assignments, in order to safeguard and ensure the independence and
impartiality of the judiciary in line with article 14 of the Covenant.
It must ensure that judges may not be removed from their posts, unless
they are found guilty of behaviour not becoming a judge, by an independent
11. The Committee is concerned that the State party has not yet established
an independent, legally constituted body with power to oversee and investigate
complaints of human rights violations, including complaints against
members of the police, security services and prison guards. This fact
may account for the small number of recorded complaints, in contrast
to the information about large numbers of violations received from non-governmental
sources. (articles 2, 7 and 10)
The State party should establish, by legislation, a permanent independent
human rights monitoring body, with adequate powers and resources to
receive and investigate allegations of torture or other abuses of power
by public officials, including security services and initiate criminal
and disciplinary proceedings against those found responsible.
12. The Committee regrets the lack of precise information provided by
the delegation with respect to number and location of all detention
centres, or institutions in which persons are held against their will,
and the conditions under which people are held. (article 10)
The State party should provide information in respect of all the institutions
in which persons are held against their will, number and names of the
institutions and the number of inmates in each and whether these are
remand or convicted persons.
13. The Committee is concerned that the legal right of detainees to
access to counsel, medical advice and members of the family is not always
respected in practice.
The State party should ensure scrupulous respect for these rights by
its law enforcement agencies, procuracy and judiciary.
14. The Committee is concerned that the State party asserts that this
it is a new phenomenon, and although some efforts have been made, there
is no comprehensive approach to preventing and eliminating domestic
violence against women, and punishing perpetrators. (articles 3, 7 ,9
The State party should assess the impact of measures already taken to
address the incidence of domestic violence against women. It should
strengthen and improve the effectiveness of legislation, policies and
programmes aimed at combating such violence. The State party should
further implement training and sensitisation programmes for the judiciary,
law enforcement officials and members of the legal profession, as well
as awareness-raising measures to ensure no tolerance in society of violence
15. The Committee is concerned that the State party has not undertaken
adequate measures to help women prevent unwanted pregnancies and to
ensure that they do not undergo life threatening abortions. (article
The State party should take adequate measures to help women prevent
unwanted pregnancies and avoid resorting to life threatening abortions,
and to adopt appropriate family planning programmes to this effect.
16. The Committee notes that the information provided by the delegation
was insufficient for the Committee to have a clear view of the situation
Vietnam with regard to religious freedoms. In the light of information
available to the Committee that certain religious practices are repressed
discouraged in Vietnam, the Committee is seriously concerned that the
State party's practice in this respect does not meet the requirements
of article 18 of
the Covenant. The Committee is deeply concerned by allegations of harassment
and detention of religious leaders and regrets that the delegation failed
to provide information relating to such allegations. In this context,
the Committee is concerned at the restrictions placed on outside observers
to investigate the allegations.
The State party is requested to provide the Committee with up-to-date
information about the number of individuals belonging to various religious
communities and the number of places of worship, as well as the practical
measures taken by the authorities to guarantee the freedom of exercise
of religious practice.
17. The Committee takes note of the fact that the law makes no provision
for the status of conscientious objector to military service, which
may legitimately be claimed under article 18 of the Covenant.
The State party should ensure that persons liable for military service
may claim the status of conscientious objector and perform alternative
service without discrimination.
18. The Committee is concerned at reports of the extensive limitations
on the right to freedom of expression in the media and the fact that
the Press Law does not allow the existence of privately owned media.
It is also concerned at the press laws which impose restrictions on
publications which, inter alia, are said to cause harm to political
stability or insult national institutions. These broadly defined offences
are incompatible with paragraph 3, of article 19, of the Covenant.
The State party should take all necessary measures to put an end to
direct and indirect restrictions on freedom of expression. The press
laws should be brought into compliance with article 19 of the Covenant.
19. While noting that the State party denies any violation of the Covenant
rights in this respect, the Committee remains concerned at the abundance
of information regarding the treatment of the Degar (Montagnard) indicating
serious violations of article 7 and 27 of the Covenant. The Committee
is concerned at the lack of specific information concerning indigenous
peoples, especially the Degar (Montagnard), and about measures taken
to ensure that their rights under article 27 to enjoy their cultural
traditions, including their religion and language, as well as their
agricultural activities, are respected.
The State party should take immediate measures to ensure that the rights
of members of indigenous communities are respected.
Non-governmental organisations and other human rights monitors should
be granted access to the central highlands.
20. While noting the explanations provided by the delegation regarding
the exercise of the right to freedom of association, the Committee is
concerned at the absence of specific legislation on political parties
and at the fact that only the Communist party is permitted. The Committee
is concerned at reported obstacles imposed on the registration and free
operation of non-governmental human rights organisations and political
parties (article 19, 22 and 25). It is especially concerned with obstacles
placed in the path of national and international non-governmental organisations
and special rapportuers whose task it is to investigate allegations
of human rights violations in the territory of the State party.
The State party should take all the necessary steps to enable national
and international non-governmental human rights organisations and political
parties to function without hindrance.
21. The Committee is concerned about the restrictions on public meetings
and demonstrations. (article 25)
The State party should provide additional information on the conditions
for public assemblies and, in particular, to indicate whether and
under what conditions the holding of a public assembly can be prohibited
and whether such measures can be appealed.
22. The State party should make public the present examination of its
second periodic report by the Committee, the written answers it has
provided in responding to the lists of issues drawn up by the Committee
and, in particular, these concluding observations.
23. The State party is requested pursuant to rule 70, paragraph 5, of
the Committee's rules of procedure, to forward information within 12
months on the implementation of the Committee's recommendations regarding
paragraphs 7, 12, 14, 16, 19, and 21. The Committee requests that information
concerning the reminder of the recommendations be included in the third
periodic report, to be submitted by 1 August 2004 .