Markus Löning, Federal Government Commissioner for Human Rights Policy and Humanitarian Aid, has urged the Vietnamese Government to release all political prisoners and to lift press censorship. Upon his return from Viet Nam he issued the following statement on this matter in Berlin on 15 December:
“Viet Nam’s successful economic and social development over recent years must not blind us to the fact that further major efforts are required in the fields of human rights and democratization.
Anyone challenging the rule of the Communist Party, criticizing prominent party members or calling for pluralism, runs the risk of being persecuted and detained without respect for rule of law principles. Some critics of the regime were not allowed to meet me, my request to visit a prison in Ho Chi Minh City was turned down and more “official listeners” than journalists took part in the final press conference.
The Vietnamese leadership has to dare more democracy. I call upon the political leadership to follow the example set by Myanmar and immediately release all political prisoners as well as to lift press censorship. Viet Nam has committed itself under international law to grant freedom of opinion and press freedom, and now it is time to deliver.”
From 9 to 14 December Federal Government Commissioner for Human Rights Policy Markus Löning visited Viet Nam to gain a first hand impression of the political and human rights situation there. He went to Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City for talks with government representatives, civil society, NGOs, human rights activists, religious leaders and representatives of the business community. Markus Löning also visited a textiles factory producing for German companies. He was not permitted to visit a prison.
Viet Nam has ratified the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. Freedom of opinion and press freedom are guaranteed by this Covenant. Viet Nam is seeking a seat on the United Nations Human Rights Council for the 2014 to 2016 period.