Civil society plays essential role in human rights review process

06 Aug 2013

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Ha Noi - The draft national report on the second cycle of Universal Periodic Review (UPR), an international human rights mechanism, was discussed with Government agencies and civil society in Ha Noi on 6 August.

After the first cycle of UPR in 2009, Viet Nam accepted 96 out of the 123 resulting recommendations and this draft report focuses on the implementation of these recommendations and recent progress in ensuring human rights in the country.

“Consultations with relevant parties help make the report more balanced, comprehensive and reflect the reality of the situation in Viet Nam,” said Mr Hoang Chi Trung, Head of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs’ (MOFA) Department for International Organizations.

Speaking at the workshop, participants from political, social and professional organizations highlighted the essential role of civil society in the UPR process, especially in the implementation of the accepted recommendations and in the oversight of the implementation. They referred to gaps in the human rights protection system, especially in guaranteeing the rights of vulnerable groups, including children, poor women, people with disabilities, as well as the rights of people within criminal procedures.

“I believe that productive engagement between government and civil society is one of the most important benefits to emerge from the inclusive UPR process,” said Ms Pratibha Mehta, UN Resident Coordinator in Viet Nam. “More work is needed to strengthen the monitoring process of the human rights situation on the ground, as well as increasing the availability of data and evidence-based information on the current situation”.

The MOFA-organized workshop is part of the consultation process collecting opinions on the draft report before its submission to the UN Human Rights Council in January 2014. The draft report is also available on MOFA’s website for individuals and organizations to contribute opinions from 23 July to 15 August, 2013.

These consultations are supported by the UN Development Programme through a project that works to strengthen Viet Nam’s awareness and capacity to implement human rights obligations and improve engagement with regional and international human rights mechanisms.

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Mr. Hoang Chi Trung, Head of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs’ Department for International Organizations: “Consultations with relevant parties help make the report more balanced, comprehensive and reflect the reality of the situation in Viet Nam.”Ms. Pratibha Mehta, UN Resident Coordinator in Viet Nam: “More work is needed to strengthen the monitoring process of the human rights situation on the ground, as well as to increase the availability of data and evidence-based information on the current situation.”Mr. Le Khac Quang, from Viet Nam Lawyers’ Association: “The draft report hasn’t referred to the rights of people in temporary detention as well as the right to vote and stand for election.”Mr. Nguyen Dinh Luu, President of the Viet Nam Association in Support of People with Disabilities and Orphans: “It’s important to reflect the role of social organizations in protecting the rights of people with disabilities. The State needs to delegate more power and allocate more resources to social organizations.”Mr. Mai The Bay, Deputy Director of International Cooperation Department of the Supreme People’s Procuracy of Viet Nam: “The draft report needs to refer to the strengthening of human rights in the development of the Criminal Procedure Code.”Ms. Nguyen Thi Minh Chau, from the Vietnam Association for Protection of Children's Rights: “The draft report needs to include the Law on Child Protection and Care, which is being amended along with the role of non-governmental organizations not only in the implementation of the law, but also in the oversight of its implementation.”Ms. Nguyen Ngoc Lan, from the Civil Society Inclusion in Food Security and Poverty Elimination Network (CIFPEN): “The draft report refers to housing projects for low-income people, but does not mention how many houses/buildings meet the accessibility requirements for people with disabilities.”Mr. Hoang Hung Hai, from the Human Rights Research Institute of the Ho Chi Minh National Academy of Politics and Public Administration: “Training programs on basic human rights knowledge should also include participants from non-governmental organizations.” Ms. Nghiem Kim Hoa, from Cooperation Group for Governance and Public Administration Reform (GPAR): “The Government’s involvement of non-governmental organizations in the consultation process for this UPR report is a step forward from the first cycle. The Government should expand cooperation with non-governmental organizations in communication and awareness raising on human rights.”Mr. Pham Hong Thai, from Viet Nam National University, Ha Noi: “Chapter II of the Constitution specifies human rights, but does not refer to the right to life. Human rights should be mainstreamed into teaching curriculums at all education levels, from secondary school to undergraduate and post graduate.”Ms. Le Thi Ngan Giang, from Gender and Community Development Network (GENCONET): “Measures need to be taken to bring the Land Law into life. The ratio of women with their names on land use rights certificates is still low.”Professor Nguyen Dang Dung, from Viet Nam National University, Ha Noi: “The rights of people within criminal procedures as well as the arrest and detention of people should be reflected.”