Civil society groups have called for concrete actions from Vietnam, which begins its ASEAN presidency this year, to address the most pressing human rights issues in Southeast Asia.
The Asian Forum for Human Rights and Development (FORUM-ASIA), a coalition of human rights organizations across the region, criticized Vietnam for excluding efforts to address the deterioration of civic space and human rights violations of his priority programs during his presidency of ASEAN.
“This is even more worrisome since these have been happening steadily and have not been addressed in recent decades,” the coalition said in a statement Wednesday.
Citing documents from the 2018 Universal Periodic Review meeting at the United Nations, the coalition said that Vietnam has tried to systematically silence human rights defenders and bloggers at home “through the implementation of vague national security laws, physical attacks and restrictions on freedom of movement, as well as torture and ill-treatment in detention. ”
“As Vietnam assumes the presidency of ASEAN and, as such, should lead efforts to promote and protect human rights in the region, we would like to point out the fact that Vietnam has a lot to do at home to show that it is capable of taking the leadership of human rights at the regional level, “the activists said.
ASEAN Foreign Affairs Ministers will meet Thursday in the coastal city of Nha Trang, in southern Vietnam, for a closed-door retreat, when they can frankly discuss national and regional concerns.
The region has many long-standing human rights problems, Forum Asia said, including refugee crises, the reduction of civic and democratic space, the repression of freedom of expression and the deterioration of ecological sustainability.
“ASEAN has been widely criticized for its persistent silence on these issues, as it does not provide timely responses on various crises compared to other international and regional intergovernmental organizations,” they said. (dis / ipa)