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Resumption of death penalty ‘major setback’ for human rights in Viet Nam – UN

NEW YORK – The United Nations human rights office on Friday said that the resumption of the death penalty in Viet Nam represents a “major setback” in the country’s human rights record.

A 27-year-old man was executed on 6 August in Hanoi by lethal injection. The execution is the first in the last 18 months in the country.

“We are dismayed by the resumption of the death penalty by Viet Nam,” the spokesperson for the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR), Cécile Pouilly, told journalists in Geneva.

Ms. Pouilly added that the office is also “deeply concerned” for the lives of some 116 death row prisoners in the country who have exhausted their appeals are now facing imminent execution.

“We urge the Government not to carry out further executions and to join the growing number of Member States that have established a moratorium on the death penalty or abolished this practice altogether,” Ms. Pouilly said, noting that 19 States in the Asia-Pacific region have stepped away from the practice.

“We also call upon the Government to declassify the data on the use of the death penalty as a state secret, recalling the importance of transparent and effective public debate on the subject ensuring that the public has access to balanced and accurate information,” she added.

Speaking on the subject in June, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon expressed particular concern that the application of the death penalty in countries where it is still practiced “is often cloaked in secrecy,” and that a lack of data on the number of executions or individuals on death row impedes an informed national debate on the issue.

He urged Member States to stop the use of “this inhumane practice,” particularly in countries that have resumed executions after a moratorium.

Since 2007, the UN General Assembly has adopted four resolutions calling on States to establish a moratorium on the use of the death penalty with a view to abolition. About 150 of the UN’s 193 Member States have either abolished the death penalty or no longer practice it.

Last month, High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay wrote to Prime Minister Nguyen Tan advocating for the abolition of the death penalty in Viet Nam. According to her spokesperson, Ms. Pillay noted that Viet Nam still retains the death penalty for several offences that do not meet the threshold of most serious crimes.

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