CONSIDERATION OF REPORTS SUBMITTED BY STATES PARTIES
UNDER ARTICLE 40 OF THE COVENANT
Concluding observations of the Human Rights Committee
Comments by the Government of Viet Nam on the
concluding observations of the Human Rights Committee
[21 July 2003]
1. Whether to retain or abolish the death penalty de1pends totally on practical conditions of a country. A State of Rule of law must have an appropriate system of laws stipulating penalties rightly for criminals to ensure a peaceful life for the people. None of the countries in the world allows itself to give light punishments to persons committing serious crimes. A large number of countries still retain the death penalty and this is in the interest of the majority of the people. In Viet Nam, over the last years, the death penalty has been mostly given to persons engaged in drug trafficking since it has become a very serious problem for the development of Viet Nam and has posed a direct threat to every family. (According to incomplete statistics, by the end of 2000, the number of drug addicts throughout the country reached 101,036, of whom 2,000 addicts are school pupils and students, 4,799 are children.) Yet, Viet Nam is of the view that the death penalty should be applicable only to persons committing particularly serious crimes. Therefore, in the 1999 Revised Penal Code, the death penalty charges were reduced from 44 to 29 as compared with the 1985 Penal Code (reduced by 15 charges). The death penalty shall not apply to juvenile offenders (aged from full 14 to under 18), to pregnant women and women nursing children under 36 months old at the time of committing crimes or being tried.
Violence against women
2. The State of Viet Nam has promulgated policies and laws aimed at ensuring gender equality and banning violence against women, and severely dealing with acts infringing upon life, health, human dignity or violating right to freedom, right to family member equality. Viet Nam is strongly against the idea that family violence is a private matter. Article 52 of the Constitution stipulates: "to prohibit torture, inhuman treatment, violations of honour, dignity in all forms …". The Penal Code of Viet Nam has provisions related to the offence of forced suicide (art. 100), the offence of intentionally causing injury to others (art. 104), the offence of inhuman treatment (art. 121), considering all of them as violations of human rights.
3. Viet Nam has been promoting cooperation within ASEAN and with other countries in implementing projects to prevent family violence against women and has achieved good results. However, family violence still exists worldwide and tends to increase. This may result from local old customs and practice, and even this is, somewhere, regarded as religious faith. In remote and mountainous areas, family violence is viewed as a private matter, which draws no attention from local authorities and community (a woman beaten by her husband dares not report to local authorities as she thinks that it may make both her husband and herself ashamed).
4. To solve that problem, Viet Nam is of the view that:
(a) To further enhance international and regional cooperation
in preventing violence;
(b) To strengthen the national legal system to prevent and combat violence against women; raise women's position by ensuring gender equality; step up legal propaganda and education on rights of women;
(c) To strongly combat acts of violence against women.
Policies of the State of Viet Nam towards and achievements
obtained in the Central Highland
5. The Central Highland holds a particularly important position in economic-social and defence-security fields, with the population of 4.5 million of which ethnic minority people account for one third. The Government of Viet Nam pays much attention to the Central Highland and has been adopting policies and measures to facilitate development in this potential region and to provide assistance for ethnic groups.
6. The State of Viet Nam advocates that socio-economic development in the Central Highland lies in the framework of the national and regional socio-economic development master plans; economic development in the region should be linked to social progress and justice; adequate attention be paid to the improvement of the people's life, poverty alleviation and hunger eradication, especially for remote area inhabitants and ethnic minority people; solution be found for local people who have no cultivable land and no jobs; socio-economic development should go in line with the State nationality policy; a contingent of cadres of ethnic minority be formed in conformity with geographic, historic, cultural, social particularities of the Central Highland; socio-economic development be obtained in consistence with the policy on national solidarity.
Some main solutions
In economic development
7. To give priority to investment for development in remote areas inhabited by ethnic minority people; create conditions for the State owned enterprises to develop production, generate jobs, increase incomes, raise material and cultural living for ethnic minority; put forth appropriate policies to enable ethnic people to live on forestry; readjust the fund of the State land to allot land to landless farmers, first of all those of ethnic minority; work out measures aimed at preventing unlawful sale and transfer of land, especially farming land of ethnic people, helping them to lead a sedentary life; create favourable conditions for scientists and technicians to come to work in the region for technological transfer to farmers of ethnic groups; make efforts to build road networks, especially networks to remote areas.
Fast social and cultural development
8. In the next five years, make great efforts to improve the material and spiritual life of over 1.3 million ethnic inhabitants, mostly eradicate hunger and abolish poverty, ensure provision of farming land and jobs for inhabitants; provide support in housing for poor households. Strive to enable the population in the Central Highland by the year 2010 to have solid houses, have access to clean water and primary health care. Try to ensure sufficient classrooms and teachers in ethnic inhabited areas to enable their children to go to school to learn both Vietnamese and their own languages and scripts. Make efforts to preserve cultural heritages of ethnic groups in the Central Highland. Try to establish television and radio networks of ever better quality throughout the region; increase time of radio transmission in languages of ethnic minorities. Strive to ensure freedom of religious belief and religious activities in accordance with the law. The consistent policy of the State is to respect religious freedom and freedom of religious belief as well as freedom of non-religious belief.
9. Annual average GDP growth rate (the period 1996-2000) reached 12.5 per cent, up by 1.78-fold as compared with that of the whole country. In 2000, GDP in the region increased by 2.33 times as compared with that of 1990. Total export value rose from US$ 124 million in 1990 to US$ 376 million in 2000. Proportion of industry and service sectors increased. Per capita income rose up by 2.5-fold. Remarkable improvement was seen in livings of local inhabitants. Rate of poor households decreased from 50 per cent in 1990 to 17 per cent by 2000 (according to previous poverty rating norms).
Agricultural production expanded.
10. Areas specialized in growing industrial plants such as coffee, rubber, sugarcane, tea, mulberry, cotton, cashew nuts were set up thus facilitating a large scale development of commodity economy linked with the processing industry and improving the life of a large section of the population (as compared with that in 1990, food output in 2000 rose up by 1.4-fold; coffee growing area up by 5.5-fold; area of rubber by 3.2-fold; tea by 1.55-fold; area of cotton rose from 12 ha to 12,000 ha, accounting for 56 per cent of the total area and 70 per cent of the total output.
11. There have emerged some new industries changing the face of the Central Highland such as hydropower industry, processing industry for agricultural and forestry produce. Over the past 10 years, 41 industrial establishments were built including 4 sugar mills, 5 rubber processing plants, 9 coffee processing mills, 3 tea plants, 14 wood processing factories, 2 cement factories. Yaly hydropower plant with a capacity of 720 MW, Ham Thuan-Da My hydropower plant of 450 MW came into operation in 2001.
12. By the year 2000, nearly 2,000 km of highways, over 3,000 km of inter-provincial roads, over 4,000 km of district linking roads and 5,000 km of rural roads had been built and expanded; airports upgraded and flights to Hanoi, Danang and Ho Chi Minh city increased. Big investments were put in the irrigation service, 910 irrigation works built. The electricity network was expanded to supply power for 100 per cent of districts and 40 per cent of households. Six hundred and fifty-six postal establishments were set up by the year 2000.
In cultural-social fields
13. Noticeable developments have been seen. Priority has been given to health care for the local people, especially in remote and mountainous areas. There are sufficient provincial, district and regional hospitals and clinics. Most of the communes have health stations, 39 per cent of which with medical doctors; over 90 per cent of communes have health workers. Every commune has a primary school; 60 per cent of communes have a basic education school. Districts and towns have secondary schools, boarding schools. University, colleges, technical schools in the region have been upgraded thus helping build up human resources. By 2000, all provinces in the Central Highland had been recognized for universalization of general education and eradication of illiteracy. The number of people having access to television and radio service is growing. Good results have been achieved in implementing national programmes for poverty alleviation, job generation, socio-economic development for particularly difficult villages (Note: Programme 135).
Freedom of religious belief
14. In the framework of the consistent policy of the State namely to respect religious freedom, religious activities are normally undertaken by Central Highland inhabitants, including Protestantism believers. In recent years, the number of Protestantism believers has been increasing. Viet Nam Protestantism Association (in the South) held its Congress in 2001 and now has its branches in 30 southern provinces (including Central Highland provinces) with the number of believers and clerks accounting for 80 per cent of that in the whole country.
Visits to the Central Highland
15. In 2002, a number of international delegations were allowed
to visit the Central Highland: a Danish press team visited Daklak, Lam
Dong provinces; 15 teams of 38 nationals from Britain, Switzerland, the
Philippines, France, Germany … had working visits to Daklak to monitor
project implementation and explore investment opportunities; the UNDP Coordinator
had a working visit there. The United States General Consul in HCM city
and a diplomat from the United States Embassy in Hanoi made a visit to
Daklak. Since early 2003, more foreigners could visit the Central Highland
such as foreign press teams, and an EU team from Hanoi.
Some figures about the Central Highland
16. (a) Average per capita GDP rose from 2.1 million Dong in
1999 to 2.9 million Dong in 2000;
(b) Poverty rate (according to previous poverty rating norm) reduced by 4 per cent a year;
(c) Development investment capital increased from 5,900 billion Dong in 1999 to 6,000 billion Dong in 2000;
(d) Traffic: By 2001, 97.42 per cent of villages had roads to village centres;
(e) Education: in the school year 2000/01, rate of school graduates in the region was 89.22 per cent (primary education) as compared with the rate of 94.04 per cent of the whole country; 86.18 per cent (basic education) as compared with that of 91.22 per cent of the whole country and 87.57 per cent (secondary education) as compared with that of 92.47 per cent of the whole country;
(f) Total investment capital (period 1996-2000) reached 24,000 billion Dong, 4-fold increase over the period 1991-1995;
(g) Food output of 2000 up by 1.4-fold over that of 1990.