David Sapterstein, Ambassador-at-large for International Religious Freedom, and a delegation from the US Department of State took a fact-finding tour in Việt Nam from March 26 to 31.
Leaders of Gia Lai central Province receive David Sapterstein, Ambassador-at-large for International Religious Freedom, and a delegation from the US Department of State during their visit to Gia Lai.— Photo phatgiao.org.vn
On March 30 and 31, the officials had working sessions in the Central Highlands provinces of Kon Tum and Gia Lai, where they learnt about support given to local residents and religious organisations.
They were informed that religious organisations work with local administrations on charitable activities to improve the living conditions of local people – especially the poor, and ethnic minority households.
According to Sapterstein, the working sessions took place in an open and frank manner.
He said he received information on improvements in religious activities in Việt Nam from international religious organisations.
He also spoke about positive revisions of regulations on religion, adding that he and his co-workers understood more about local religious freedom after visiting Kon Tum and Gia Lai provinces.
In Hà Nội, he was greeted by Deputy Minister of Public Security, Tô Lâm.
Lâm told his guest that human rights are a motivation for the development process in Việt Nam and have been institutionalised in the Constitution and laws, and ensured by guidelines, policies and mechanisms.
He added that Việt Nam is a member of important international conventions on human rights, including the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights; and the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights.
Any racial discrimination or division is forbidden in Việt Nam, where the right to religious freedom is written into the Constitution, Lâm stressed.
The Government has made an effort to ensure that people follow their own beliefs and religions, and consider this a crucial part of reform and socio-economic development.
Religious and non-religious people are to be equally respected by law, and all religions look toward building Việt Nam into a country of peace and stability, Lâm said.
He expressed his belief that the US officials’ working visit will allow the two countries to gain a deeper understanding of human rights and religious affairs for the sake of their interests, and peace and development in the region and the world.
Saperstein said he was delighted to visit Việt Nam again, at a time when the two countries’ co-operation is growing.
He shared Lâm’s belief that the visit will enable the two sides to share knowledge on issues of mutual concern.