Vietnamese Christian human rights lawyer Nguyen Van Dai was sentenced to 15 years in jail in April last year.

Religious freedom advocates have called on the Vietnamese government to cease persecution of Christians and members of other religious minorities, including torture.

Their calls come ahead of the UN Review of the country’s human rights records in Geneva today, 22 January.

Non-governmental organisations said in their submission to the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights that “in 2017, hundreds of Christians and Buddhists suffered from persecution by state agents. The victims had their personal items/homes destroyed, property seized and were subjected to severe violence, sham trials, and death”.

In its report, Christian Solidarity Worldwide said those in remote areas and belonging to unregistered groups suffer doubly. Defenders of the freedom of religion or belief, it said, “are especially targeted by the authorities”. Protestant Pastor Nguyen Trung Ton, Christian human rights lawyer Nguyen Van Dai lawyer and Catholic rights activist Teresa Tran Thi Xuan have been arrested and imprisoned.

Vietnam’s new Law on Belief and Religion that came into effect on 1 January last year has changed little for Vietnam’s religious minorities.

The US Commission on International Religious Freedom recommended in May last year that the State Department add Vietnam to its list of ‘Countries of Particular Concern’ because of its religious freedom violations.