The draft law on belief and religion in Vietnam was recently brought to the National Assembly for discussion. This is a strong effort from Vietnam to further support religious practice in the country.
A VTV reporter sat down with Dr. Chris Seiple, President Emeritus and Chairman of the Board at the Institute for Global Engagement (IGE) former President of the Institute for Global Engagement (IGE), to hear his opinion on this matter.
Q: What’s your assessment on Vietnam's efforts in ensuring the right to freedom of belief and religion
Dr. Chris Seiple:
I think all countries have their own transition and their own process to which they address these issues. Ten years ago, or 2004, Vietnam was on the list of religious freedom violation, according to the United States. Now, it’s not on that list.
Since then, through the training on religion and the rule of law programs and around the country, we have seen a change of mindset, that’s already signaled by the highest level in the Vietnamese Government.
The IGE is not causing this change. IGE is coming alongside this change and working in support of the direction that Vietnam is already ongoing
Q: what are the positive aspects and limitations of the recent Draft Law on belief and religion?
The first is this, because Vietnam has less experience with religion and rule of law and there’s only the ordinance before, which means the ordinance can be interpreted differently at different levels, at the provincial or communal level. Religious law is good if only to focus on conversation, and just say how do we think about that’s what it says, how do we think about that’s what states. We are now on the fifth and six iterations if we are looking at the law and it has been intentional listening periods to the society. That’s very very healthy.
If you are going to have a law, you have a to address the ideas of non-believers because everyone is equal under the transparent rule of law, and that is what Vietnam is working it
The opposite site would be ok…, you are gonna to have a law but the way the law currently envisioned as I understand it is that there is a waiting process between registration, and then if there’s violation between the warnings about the violation and the sanctions might happen. And now there’s no appeal process. And those are about possible interpretations of the law exist now, positive and also limiting process.