Christian Solidarity Worldwide (CSW), together with over 50 civil society organisations and Vietnamese religious groups, has called upon the Vietnamese government to further revise its draft Law on Belief and Religion, to conform with Vietnam’s obligations under international human rights law.
This is Vietnam’s first law on religion and belief, and the current draft is likely be voted into law by the National Assembly at its session in October-November 2016.
The draft law has been revised several times. The present draft improves on previous versions and now includes provisions for the right to change one’s religion, and the right of religious organisations to participate in activities such as education, vocational training, medical care and social and humanitarian assistance.
However, basic guarantees of the right to freedom of religion or belief continue to be undermined by onerous registration requirements and excessive State interference in the internal affairs of religious organisations.
In a joint statement, CSW and other civil society organisations have called upon the Vietnamese Government to revise the law to remove ambiguities which leave space for discrimination and abuse; to bring its definition of religion in line with Article 18 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR); and to ensure that registration is not a pre-requisite for the exercise of freedom of religion or belief.
CSW’s Chief Executive Mervyn Thomas said, “While there have been some positive revisions to the draft law, the latest draft still falls short of the standards set out in the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. This letter draws on the criticisms and concerns voiced by Vietnamese religious communities and shared by international civil society organisations. CSW continues to receive reports of the harassment and arbitrary detention of unregistered Protestants and other religious minorities; we are therefore particularly concerned about the possible impact of this law on unregistered groups. We urge the Vietnamese Government to consult with religious communities and to revise the law to ensure that registration is not a pre-requisite for the exercise of freedom of religion or belief.”
- Pray for the Government of Vietnam as it considers the draft Law and the call to revise it. Pray for wisdom, that they will act with justice and integrity, and be true to their statement allowing freedom of belief for all people.
- Pray for Christians in Vietnam who frequently face restrictions on meeting together as well as oppression and persecution. Pray for their faith to grow strong, and for opportunities to meet together without fear. Pray too for protection for them, their families and homes, and for their witness in their communities to the love of Christ.
- Pray for a move of the Holy Spirit over this nation, for many to hear the Gospel and to come to know the freedom and saving grace that is found through Jesus Christ.
Deuteronomy 16 vs 20: “Justice, and only justice, you shall pursue, so that you may live and occupy the land that the Lord your God is giving you.”
Source: http://www.csw.org.uk, http://www.persecution.org