(WASHINGTON, D.C.) - Representatives from Amnesty International's Secretariat this week made their first visit to Viet Nam in decades.
A four-person delegation spent three days in Viet Nam's capital Hanoi, building on an individual visit for the organization last year by Amnesty International USA Deputy Executive Director.
They met with a range of stakeholders, including senior government and Communist Party officials, National Assembly members, experts from research institutes, representatives of non-governmental organizations and foreign diplomats.
"We are pleased that the Vietnamese authorities have allowed representatives from the International Secretariat of Amnesty International to enter the country for the first time in decades. We had frank and open discussions on a number of human rights concerns," said Isabelle Arradon, deputy director of Amnesty International’s Asia-Pacific program, who led the delegation.
"This is a positive step, and we look forward to further constructive engagement with the Viet Nam government."
Discussions were held on the right to freedom of expression, human rights based policing, the death penalty, ethnic minority and women's rights, migrant workers and human trafficking.
Amnesty International said that all prisoners of conscience - those jailed simply for peacefully expressing their views - should be released.
The visit coincided with the temporary release on medical grounds of environment activist and blogger Dinh Dang Dinh, as well as the appeal hearing for human rights lawyer Le Quoc Quan, whose jail sentence was upheld.
"Viet Nam is looking to play an enhanced role in the region and internationally. With that ambition comes the responsibility to respect, promote, and protect human rights," said Isabelle Arradon.
Viet Nam has been elected to the U.N. Human Rights Council and has just undergone its second Universal Periodic Review, a U.N. human rights review. It has committed to ratify the UN Convention against Torture this year.
Viet Nam has invited Amnesty International to make follow up visits, which will include human rights education initiatives, travel outside of the capital, and meetings with a wider range of stakeholders, including civil society.
Amnesty International is a Nobel Peace Prize-winning grassroots activist organization with more than 3 million members in more than 150 countries campaigning for human rights worldwide. The organization investigates and exposes abuses, educates and mobilizes the public, and works to protect people wherever justice, freedom, truth and dignity are denied.