Vietnam: ICJ concerned over draft Law on Religion

The ICJ and 26 other civil society organizations called today upon the Vietnamese government to comprehensively revise the draft Law on Religion to conform with the country’s obligations under international human rights law. 

The groups are concerned that Vietnam’s draft Law on Belief and Religion is inconsistent with the right to freedom of religion or belief.

In its current form, the draft Law places limitations on freedom of religion or belief that extend beyond those permitted under international human rights law that is binding on Vietnam, they say.

Article 18(3) of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), to which Vietnam is a state party, requires the authorities to ensure that the freedom to manifest one’s religion or belief is subject only to such limitations as are prescribed by law and are necessary and proportionate to protect public safety, order, health, or morals or the fundamental rights and freedoms of others.

While the draft Law purports to acknowledge “the right to freedom of religion and belief” and proclaims that the “government respects and protects the freedom of religion and belief of everyone,” the provisions of the draft Law, if passed, would act as a powerful instrument of control placing sweeping, overly broad limitations on the practice of religion or belief within Vietnam, perpetuating the already repressive situation.


Kingsley Abbott, ICJ International Legal Adviser, (Bangkok), t:+66 944701345, e-mail:

Vietnam-Draft Law on Religion-Advocacy-2015-ENG (full statement, in PDF)

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