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Bern, Press release, 23.03.2009

From 13 to 18 March, a Swiss delegation visited Vietnam in the framework of the seventh round of dialogue on human rights and international organisations. The delegation visited ministeries and spoke to representatives of the Vietnamese communist party and of civil society.

The Swiss delegation had an opportunity to form a picture of the latest human rights developments on the ground. The warm reception by the Vietnamese interlocutors also contributed to a fruitful exchange of views.  

The topics of discussion in the framework of the dialogue were the UN Human Rights Council, the death penalty, the International Court of Justice and freedom of expression and of religion. In the light of the forthcoming review of the human rights situation in Vietnam by the UN Human Rights Council, the Swiss delegation reported on Switzerland's experience with the new universal periodic review procedure.  (UPR). The Swiss delegation urged the Vietnamese side to impose a  moratorium on executions and to publish statistics on the number of executions. Both delegations explained the attitudes of their governments to protection of freedom of expression in terms of maintenance of national security and of tensions surrounding the defamation of religions. The Vietnamese delegation informed the Swiss side about its recent talks with the Vatican concerning the normalisation of bilateral relations and about the current status regarding possible accession to the Rome Statute of the International Court of Justice. In the period preceding the dialogue round, Switzerland already requested information about persons who had been arrested.

The Vietnamese delegation requested information about the Swiss Foreigner and Asylum Acts and about Switzerland's attitude to ratification of the UN Convention on the Protection of Migrant Workers.

The delegations also discussed the continuation of cooperation regarding the ratification of the UN Convention against Torture, the protection of prisoners, women's rights and the guarantee of minority rights. 

The programme of visits was complemented by the inspection of a project by the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC) to fight domestic violence in the province of Ninh Binh. The activity of the SDC  in Vietnam has played a major role in overcoming the taboo on domestic violence.

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