OPINION No. 4/2001 (VIET NAM)
Communication addressed to the Government on 12 September 2000
Concerning Thich Huyen Quang
The State is a party to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights
1. The Working Group on Arbitrary Detention was established by Commission on Human Rights resolution 1991/42. The mandate of the Working Group was extended and clarified by resolutions 1997/50 and 2000/36, and re-confirmed by resolution 2001/40. In accordance with its methods of work, the Working Group transmitted the above-mentioned communication to the Government.
2. The Working Group regrets that the Government did not reply within the 90-day time limit.
3. The Working Group regards deprivation of liberty as arbitrary in the following cases:
(i) When it manifestly cannot be justified on any legal basis (such as continued detention after the sentence has been served or despite an applicable amnesty act)
(ii) When the deprivation of liberty is the result of a judgement or sentence for the exercise of the rights and freedoms proclaimed in articles 7, 13, 14, 18, 19, 20
and 21 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and also, in respect of States parties, in articles 12, 18, 19, 21, 22, 25, 26 and 27 of the International
Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (category II);
(iii) When the complete or partial non-observance of the international standards relating to a fair trial set forth in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and
in the relevant international instruments accepted by the States concerned is of such gravity as to confer on the deprivation of liberty, of whatever kind, an
arbitrary character (category III).
4. In the light of the allegations made, the Working Group would have welcomed the cooperation of the Government. In the absence of any information from the Government, the Working Group believes that it is in a position to render an opinion on the facts and circumstances of the case, especially since the facts and allegations contained in the communication have not been challenged by the Government.
5. According to the information received, Mr. Thich Huyen Quang, an 83-year-old
Buddhist monk, human rights defender and Patriarch of the banned Unified Buddhist
Church of Viet Nam (UBCV) was arrested on 25 February 1982 by the Security Police
(Cong’ an) in Ho Chi Ming City. Subsequently, he was reportedly sent into
internal exile without charges. According to the source, since 1982, he has
remained under house arrest in Cho Chua, Nghia Hanh District, Quang Nhai Province;
has been deprived of the right to communicate freely with the outside world;
denied his freedom of movement; and been prohibited from returning to his home
in Pagoda An Quang, Ho Chi Ming City.
6. Mr. Thich Huyen Quang is reportedly subjected to continuous harassment and interrogations by the local security police. According to the source, the police have accused him of “anti-government activities” because of a letter he sent to the Government in April 2000, in which he called on the Government publicly to regret its alleged crimes against the Vietnamese people and to proclaim 30 April, the anniversary of the fall of Saigon, a national day of repentance of the Communist Party of Viet Nam (CPV). According to Mr. Thich Huyen Quang’s verbatim account of the event, the police and officials interrogated him aggressively, threatening and intimidating him for several hours. Subsequently, the police drew up minutes of the proceedings and reportedly ordered him to sign. He refused, stating that the minutes recorded the police’s accusations, but not his answers. Finally, the police allegedly forced him to sign.
7. Although the Government of Viet Nam has reportedly denied that Mr. Thich Huyen Quang is under house arrest, it refuses him the right to freedom of movement, monitors his correspondence and is said to block visits from foreign journalists. The Special Rapporteur of the Commission on Human Rights on the question of religious intolerance, Mr. Abdelfattah Amor, was not allowed to meet Mr. Thich Huyen Quang during his visit to Viet Nam in October 1998.
8. The Working Group has maintained, in accordance with its Deliberation 1/93, that house arrest is qualified deprivation of liberty only if the person concerned is placed in closed and locked premises which he cannot leave without being authorized to do so.
9. The house arrest restrictions placed on Mr. Thich Huyen Quang, according to which he may not return to his home in Pagoda An Quang, Ho Chi Minh City, cannot communicate freely and is under surveillance, meet the conditions for being considered deprivation of liberty. The fact that the practice of his faith, a right guaranteed in the international instruments, is used to justify these restrictions gives an arbitrary slant to his house arrest.
10. In the light of the foregoing, the Working Group renders the following
opinion: The deprivation of Mr. Thich Huyen Quang’s liberty is arbitrary
as constituting a
breach of the provisions of articles 9, 10, 13 and 18 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and articles 9, 12 and 18 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, falling under category II of the principles applicable to the consideration of cases submitted to the Working Group.
11. The Working Group accordingly requests the Government to take the necessary steps to remedy the situation and to bring it into conformity with the standards and principles set forth in articles 9, 10, 13 and 18 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and articles 9, 12 and 18 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.
Adopted on 17 May 2001