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ICC NOTE: U.S. officials have appealed to the Vietnamese government to release all of its political prisoners as well as its many Christian prisoners such as Nguyen Van Dai, the Christian human rights lawyer. The push by the government to do so is in lieu of the President’s visit to the Southeast Asian nation. Whether the Vietnamese government will acquiesce is something that cannot be known with total certainty. There is also the chance they may do so but re-arrest the individuals as soon as the U.S. delegation departs. Vietnam remains a country of particular concern according to the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) annual report, placing them among the worst violators of religious freedom. 

4/26/2016 Vietnam (VOA) – The United States has urged the Vietnamese government to release all political prisoners and cease its harassment of civil society activists. Officials made the appeal ahead of President Barack Obama’s first visit to Vietnam in May.

“The promotion of human rights remains a crucial part of U.S. foreign policy and is a key aspect of our ongoing dialogue within the U.S.-Vietnam comprehensive partnership,” said State Department spokesman John Kirby Monday, as the U.S. and Vietnam held the 20th session of their Human Rights Dialogue in Washington.

The Dialogue has covered a wide range of human rights issues, including the importance of continued progress on legal reform efforts, rule of law, freedom of expression and assembly, religious freedom, labor rights, disability rights, LGBT rights, multilateral cooperation, as well as individual cases of concern, according to the State Department.

The U.S. had expressed deep concerns over the case of Nguyen Van Dai, a human rights lawyer who was arrested by authorities in mid-December of 2015.

The arrest came as he was preparing to meet European Union delegates who were in Hanoi for EU-Vietnam human rights dialogue.

Speaking on Nguyen’s case last December, the State Department urged Vietnamese authorities to ensure its actions were consistent with its international obligations and called on Hanoi to “release unconditionally all prisoners of conscience.”

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