Mar 13, 2012

UN Committee Highlights Pattern of Racial Discrimination in Vietnam

Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination expressed concerns regarding double discrimination faced by indigenous peoples and ethnic minorities as a result of state policies.

Photo: UNPO chairs a lunchtime briefing for CERD Committee Members to receive first-hand accounts from NGOs reporting on human rights violations faced by Degar Montagnards, Khmer Krom, and Hmong peoples. 21 February 2012. Photo by Khmer Kampuchea-Krom Federation. Geneva

Below is an article published by UNPO:

Representatives from the Khmer Kampuchea-Krom Federation and the Montagnard Foundation Inc. joined UNPO to attend the 80th Session of the UN Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination in Geneva during the consideration of Vietnam’s state reports. 

Building on its longstanding engagement with the UN bodies, UNPO submitted Alternative Reports in advance of the session, documenting the situation of the Khmer Krom, Degar Montagnards, and Hmong peoples who face social, economic, and religious discrimination in Vietnam. 

At the session in Geneva (Feb 21-22, 2012), UNPO contributed public interventions and informed Committee Members on questions pertinent to the Vietnam and the policies being pursued by Hanoi.  Subsequent discussions between the Committee and the Vietnamese delegation largely swayed towards discriminatory policies that marginalized indigenous peoples and ethnic minorities.

The Committee’s recently released Concluding Observations (CERD/C/VNM/CO/10-14) affirm these concerns, which included:

-Absence of a definition of racial discrimination in accordance with the Convention (para.7) and lack of information on complaints about acts of racial discrimination in spite of persistent reports of de facto discrimination against members of certain minority groups (para.9); Also related is lack of acknowledgement, by the government officials and general public, of the existence of racial discrimination and inequality between ethnic groups (para.19)

-Concern with broad and imprecise wording of certain provisions, inter alia, article 87 of the Criminal Code, and their possible misuse against some ethnic minorities (para.10) and persistent reports of arrests, arbitrary detention and ill-treatment in custody of members of minority groups due to their peaceful practice of religion and freedom of expression (para.17)

-Reluctance of the State party to commit open and inclusive discussions on the recognition of indigenous peoples (para.12)

-Sizable socio-economic gaps between disadvantaged ethnic minorities and the majority Kinh (para.13) including high illiteracy and school drop-out rates among members of ethnic minorities, in particular minority women and girls (para.14)

-Displacement of minorities and the confiscation of ancestral lands without prior consent and appropriate compensation for confiscated lands (para.15)

-Numerous and consistent reports about discrimination and restriction on religious practices faced by some Christian and Buddhist denominations among the Khmer Krom, the Degar Montagnard, and Hmong, through legislation, registration requirements, surveillance and imprisonment (para.15.a)

-Lack of legal protection to refugees or asylum seekers as well as reports about the forced repatriations, in collaboration with governments of neighboring countries, of members of indigenous peoples and of ethnic minorities seeking refuge (para.18)

The full report from the Committee may be downloaded here. (PDF, 168KB)