Vietnam welcomed UN Special Rapporteur on freedom of religion or belief Heiner Bielefeldt on a country visit from July 21-31.

Bielefeldt’s visit was part of a cooperation framework between Vietnam and the UN mechanisms on human rights.

Since 2010, Vietnam has engaged with the Special Procedures and welcomed six mandate holders, showing the country’s seriousness in implementing its international commitments since it ran for a seat at the UN Human Rights Council as well as the recommendations it has accepted in line with the universal periodic review (UPR).

During the visit, Bielefeldt had working sessions with representatives from central ministries and agencies and some localities and visited some religious establishments and individuals to learn about the practice of religion and beliefs in Vietnam.

He was reported on the country’s policies, efforts and achievements as well as difficulties and challenges in ensuring and promoting people’s right to religious and belief freedom.

The UN and Vietnamese representatives exchanged views on Vietnam’s orientations in a bid to better ensure people’s right and freedom in the field.

At a regular press conference on July 31, Foreign Ministry Spokesman Le Hai Binh said that the country has made all efforts at central and local levels to allow the UN envoy to meet with various religious groups and stakeholders.

At a press conference concluding his visit, Bielefeldt acknowledged Vietnam’s improvements in ensuring religious freedom.

The UN envoy cited Vietnam’s ratification of most international human rights instruments, including the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, whose article 18 protects freedom of thought, conscience, religion and belief.

There are currently 37 registered religious organisations in the country with 24 million followers.

Bielefedt will present a formal report to the 28th session of the Human Rights Council in March 2015.-VNA