Today, the ICJ submitted an open letter to the Prime Minister, Deputy Prime Minister and acting Minister of Health, Minister of Public Security and Minister of Justice of Vietnam, expressing concerns about detainees whose physical integrity and well being are believed to be at risk.
This is because they have not been provided with adequate access to healthcare and medical treatment in prison.
The ICJ also called on the Vietnamese authorities to respect, protect and fulfill its obligations to ensure humane treatment and provide the equal right of access to healthcare and health services to all prisoners and detained individuals, in their measures to combat the COVID-19 outbreak; and to release detainees particularly vulnerable to the COVID-19 crisis, including older detainees and those who are sick or suffering from pre-existing medical conditions.
In its letter, the ICJ raised concerns about the condition of 21 detainees who have allegedly not been provided adequate access to healthcare and medical treatment. The detainees are adherents of the An Dan Dai Dao, a Buddhist religious organization which has been the target of official persecution, raising concerns that their prosecution and their mistreatment in detention may be linked to their religious affiliation.
The ICJ urgently requested Vietnamese authorities to take immediate steps to:
- Ensure that the responsible authorities provide the detained individuals with access to adequate, prompt and continuous healthcare and medical attention, in line with Vietnam’s Constitution, and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) and the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (ICESCR) – both to which Vietnam is a State party. Such provision should also be in accordance with the United Nations Standard Minimum Rules for the Treatment of Prisoners (“Nelson Mandela Rules”), which should be fully implemented;
- Ensure that the responsible authorities meet the State’s obligations to provide equal right of access to healthcare, health facilities, goods and services to all prisoners and detained individuals;
- Conduct medical examinations and risk assessments of all persons held in detention, and release those particularly vulnerable to the COVID-19 virus, including older detainees and those who are sick or suffering from pre-existing medical conditions, including the 21 individuals named in the letter;
- Ensure that detainees, including the 21 individuals named in the letter, are not subjected to torture or other ill-treatment and that their rights to humane treatment, dignity and life are protected in accordance with articles 7 and 10 of the ICCPR and the UN Convention against Torture (UNCAT), to which Vietnam is a State party.