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Monday, 19 April 1999
Page: 3740

Motion (by Senator Bourne, also on behalf of Senator Margetts and Senator Cook) agreed to:

That the Senate—

(a) welcomes:

(i) the Prime Minister of Vietnam, His Excellency Mr Phan Van Khai, to Australia, and

(ii) the recent steps taken to improve the overall human rights situation in Vietnam, most notably the release of a number of people held in Vietnam for the peaceful expression of political or religious views under a Presidential Amnesty, including 13 people on whose behalf the Australian Government has expressed concern;

(b) notes that a commitment has been given by the Government of Vietnam that further amnesties will be granted in 1999 and 2000;

(c) encourages the Government of Vietnam to include in further amnesties all remaining prisoners detained for peaceful political and religious activities, including Mr Nguyen Dinh Huy, Mr Nguyen Ngoc Tan and United Buddhist Church of Vietnam clergy, Thich Thien Minh and Thich Hue Dang;

(d) calls for the immediate release of Mr Nguyen Thanh Giang, arrested on 4 March 1999 for the peaceful dissemination of political views;

(e) welcomes the fact that the Government of Vietnam invited the United Nations (UN) Rapporteur on Religious Intolerance to visit Vietnam in 1998, to look into the situation of religious freedom in that country;

(f) calls on the Government of Vietnam to:

(i) implement the recommendations of the UN Rapporteur concerning the relaxation or lifting of limitations placed on the exercise of the right to freedom of religion or belief, and

(ii) lift the administrative detention order placed on the leader of the United Buddhist Church of Vietnam, Thich Huyen Quang; and

(g) calls on the Australian Government to maintain an on-going and cooperative approach with the Government of Vietnam in dialogue on human rights issues.