ICC NOTE: Vietnam’s communist regime has been working on the draft of a law on religion and belief since 2015 which has created a substantial outcry from religious groups. The law would be the first of its kind in Vietnam and likely restrictive towards faith groups. The law is planned to be voted on and enacted by the end of the year allowing for government authorities to regulate “bad elements who abuse religious activities to undermine national unity”. Such language can be broadly interpreted to mean anything which the government considers to undermine national unity. Similar actions have been taken toward religious leaders and activists who have found themselves imprisoned for their faith.
6/13/2016 Vietnam (UCA News) – Vietnam’s deputy prime minister has asked religious affairs officials to enhance state management on religious affairs.
At his June 9 meeting in Hanoi with officials from the Government Committee for Religious Affairs, the body that controls and manages all religious activities in Vietnam, Deputy Prime Minister Truong Hoa Binh asked committee officials to complete policies and pass a draft law on faith and religion in order to increase state management of religious affairs.
The fifth draft of the first-ever law on faith and religion that is provoking anger among religious followers is expected to be approved by the National Assembly at the end of this year.
“The state respects and guarantees religious freedom of the people but all religious activities must obey laws,” Binh said in a statement published by Vietnam’s Communist Party’s online newspapers.
Binh also urged officials to direct religions to operate within the law and fight against “bad elements who abuse religious activities to undermine national unity.” The communist government has used this arbitrary accusation to imprison or persecute followers of unregistered groups.
According to the committee’s statistics, Vietnam has recognized 39 religious organizations within 14 religions that have 24.3 million followers, or 27 percent of the 90 million population.