According to the Governmental Commission on Religion, about 95% of Vietnamese people follow some beliefs and religions and Vietnam is rich with these. For example, for religions alone, Vietnam has 15 religions with 41 religious organizations, recognized and granted licenses by the State, with over 24.3million followers (accounting for approximately 27% of the country’s population).

Freedom of belief and religion better ensured in Vietnam. Photo for illustration

Freedom of belief and religion is one of the fundamental human rights, recognized by international laws on human rights and the laws of many countries in the world. Our Party’s and State’s consistent policy is to respect and ensure the right to freedom of belief and religion of the people. This right is clearly stated in guidelines, viewpoints, the Constitution, laws, which ensure its implementation in reality.

The Communist Party of Vietnam holds that belief and religion are the demand of part of the population and will survive with the nation during the cause of building Socialism in Vietnam. Accordingly, our Party and State consistently implement the policy of respecting and ensuring the right to freedom of belief and religion, following or not following a religion, in other words the right to practice religion is protected by law. Religions in Vietnam are practiced within the legal framework and all are equal in front of the law.

With that consistent policy, in recent years, activities to ensure the right to freedom of belief and religion in Vietnam have gained remarkable achievements, and are praised by the international community.

First, Vietnam has finalized a legal system on belief and religion. This is a very important step to facilitate activities relating to belief and religion. As a member of many significant international conventions, Vietnam is committed to respecting and assuring rights stated in those conventions by legislative activities, to effectively implement human rights recognized by those conventions.

The Vietnamese legal system on belief and religion has been amended, supplemented, and perfected. The legal documents that regulate activities in belief and religion have increased in numbers and are suited to reality. Importantly, basing on Resolution 25/NQ-TW on religious work, the National Assembly and Government have institutionalized this into legal regulations, plans, measures, and mechanisms to ensure implementation and create a legal foundation for citizens to practice their freedom of belief and religion.

Second, to legalize the Constitution 2013 and overcome shortcomings of the Law Decree on Belief and Religion after 10 years of implementation, the second section of the National Assembly 14 enacted the Law on Belief and Religion, which takes effect from January 1, 2018. This is the first time the right to freedom of belief and religion has been legalized to a specific point, in comparison to the Law Decree on Belief and Religion 2014. For instance, apart from stating the freedom of following or not following a belief or a religion, Article 6 of this law regulates that the right to freedom of belief and religion is implemented via expressing belief, practicing ceremonies, participating in religious activities, learning and practicing religious theories and laws.

Importantly, for the first time in the history of the laws on belief and religion in Vietnam, the law regulates that detainees or imprisoned are eligible to use bibles or religious documents should they so wish.

Thus, the right to freedom of belief and religion is protected, even for those who are subjected to legal punishment. This fully demonstrates the right to freedom of belief and religion, for the utmost human right, even when they lose their citizens’ rights.

Third, Vietnam has gained considerable achievements in ensuring the right to freedom of belief and religion in reality. Vietnam has introduced many plans and policies to care about the life of religious followers. Accordingly, line ministries and branches have solidified plans and policies of the Party and State by implementing many action plans for socio-economic growth, improving living standards of the people, focusing on settling socio-security issues, facilitating cultural development, and facilitating belief and religious activities for the followers.

Belief and religious activities in recent years prove this fact. Activities to express belief and religion take place as usual, especially during big festive seasons when they are celebrated on ever-bigger scales with the participation of bigger number of followers.

Moreover, religious organizations in Vietnam are eligible and facilitated by the State to open religious schools and are active in promoting religious levels in accordance with religious regulations. For instance, they can also nominate themselves to be elected to be members of the People’s Council.

It is obvious that the religious life in Vietnam develops together with the development of the nation. During this period, the role of the Party and State in creating an open environment for the people to practice their belief and religion plays a significant role.

Translated by Nam Long