HANOI (31 July 2014) – Religious communities in Viet Nam should be able to operate also outside of the officially established channels for religious practice, the United Nations Special Rapporteur on freedom of religion or belief, Heiner Bielefeldt, said today at the end of an official visit* to the country.
“Granting autonomy for religious communities to function independently would be a litmus test for the development of freedom of religion or belief in Viet Nam,” Mr. Bielefeldt noted. “In the current situation, their ability to operate as independent communities is unsafe and restricted.”
“Freedom of religion or belief has the status of universal human rights to be respected prior to, and independent of, any particular acts of administrative approval,” he stressed.
Mr. Bielefeldt acknowledged the increasing efforts of the Government to improve freedom of religion or belief via legal instruments. Nonetheless, he observed that serious violations of freedom of religion or belief are a reality in Viet Nam.