A 'colorful' overview on citizen protection during the first months of 2019

Update: 14:01 | 02/08/2019
TGVN. In the early months of 2019, the work on citizen protection has witnessed many new improvements. Rapid changes in the international situation have influenced Vietnam’s approach to citizen protection in countries, regions and in specific cases.
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a colorful overview on citizen protection during the first months of 2019

Against an international backdrop of significant developments, citizen protection finds opportunities yet faces challenges.

Numerous highlights

As we muster resources to realize the motto “proactive, timely, professional and effective citizen protection”, let not forget to grasp chances of the new situation to successfully protect the rights and interests of overseas Vietnamese and provide better assistance for citizens in distress.

Answering the press in early 2019, Deputy Prime Minister, Minister of Foreign Affairs Pham Binh Minh emphasized:

“Citizen protection is a crucial diplomatic task of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, especially of Vietnamese missions in foreign countries.

As Vietnam extensively engages in the international arena with ever opened relations with countries, the demand to go abroad of our citizens, including workers and tourists, is soaring. Therefore, citizen protection plays an important role.

It can be said that the work on citizen protection is very diverse with a great number of issues, yet it has been carried out effectively, ensuring that overseas Vietnamese will instantly respect local laws and always have the right to receive citizen protection and are treated humanely.

For years, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs has operated a 24/24 citizen protection switchboard. Vietnamese people using roaming service will initially receive a message from the switchboard informing the Consular’s contact information in case of any problem. This has affirmed that the citizen protection work has made information available to every citizen. Should overseas Vietnamese encounter any problem, please contact Vietnamese missions immediately.

By contrast, the lack of capacity and (political) acumen might enable difficulties and challenges in citizen protection to grow exponentially. For instance, the resolution to some cases might be stalled or run into deadlock, affecting citizens’ rights, interests and property or even put their lives at risk.

In this fast-evolving world, the overall picture of Vietnam’s citizen protection in the first half of 2019 was colorfully presented with diverse types of cases, levels of complexity and its wide spread in the world map.

This was demonstrated in various contexts, persons involved and measures for different cases. Among 6656 Vietnamese people and 982 fishermen receiving citizen protection around the world in the first half of 2019, many have lost their lives, others were involved in legal cases, arrested or imprisoned, were victims of accidents, natural disasters, terrorism, abduction, human trafficking, cross-border crimes, discrimination, missing and other kinds of distress. Beside handling these cases, citizen protection also constitutes the task of warning and providing information for the press and the public, the operation of the Citizen Protection Switchboard and the maintenance of the 24/7 hotline at the Consular Department and overseas Vietnamese missions.

Flexible measures

Looking at the highlights in the complicated work on citizen protection over the past six months, it is noticeable that each case is resolved with a combination of drastic solutions. One example is the case of citizen Doan Thi Huong in Malaysia. The issue was completely and successfully resolved through consular protection, legal and public opinion struggle and particularly diplomatic protection measures. The comprehensive solution for each challenging case is exclusively tailor-made and thus should be flexibly adopted to fit in with the case’s progress.

In addition to common cases of citizen protection (the violation of immigration and labor law, illegal residence, illegal fishing in foreign waters, search and rescue at seas and recommendations for citizens), during the past six months, several special cases (which had no precedent or required both legal and diplomatic efforts) were completely and timely resolved by the Consular Department in coordination with relevant parties to protect citizens’ legitimate rights and interests.

a colorful overview on citizen protection during the first months of 2019
Vietnamese Ambassador to Egypt Tran Thanh Cong visited citizens in a car bombed in January 2019.

In the future, more challenges will face the citizen protection work with harder cases forecasted to occur in the context of unpredictable changes in countries and continents. Many regions around the world suffer from political instability and crisis, natural disasters, environment problems and climate change. While the number of overseas Vietnamese is increasing, the proportion of citizens violating foreign laws has not decreased and the activities of transnational criminal organizations are ever sophisticated.

Some cases can be named such as: The arrest and release of citizen Doan Thi Huong and her return to Vietnam on May 4, 2019 after 2 years and 78 days of detention and trial in Malaysia, the case of citizen Pham Thi Tuyet Mai, who was arrested in France on December 18, 2018 and was released with ‘not-guilty’ verdict on March 2019, and the bomb attack on the bus carrying Vietnamese tourists in Cairo, Egypt, killing 3 people and injuring 12 others from December 28, 2018 to January 10, 2019.

Receiving the attention and direction from the Leaders of the State, the Government and the support of the public, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs has always given top priority to the protection of overseas Vietnamese individuals and legal entities. The Ministry will continue to carry out promptly and effective citizen protection measures to ensure the rights and interests of our overseas citizens and act as the “rescue cushion” for citizens during hardship. This is also the State’s responsibility towards the people, thereby enhancing Vietnam’s political standing and prestige in the world and in the Vietnamese community overseas.

Director of the Consular Department, Ministry of Foreign Affairs Vu Viet Anh:

“Under the close guidance of Deputy Prime Minister, Foreign Minister Pham Binh Minh and the leadership of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Consular Department has actively given recommendations, effectively implemented the work on citizen protection and has been in regular contact with Vietnamese authorities to quickly verify necessary information and strengthen our position in diplomatic efforts to protect the legitimate rights and interests of overseas Vietnamese individuals and legal entities.

In particular, regardless of daytime or nighttime, holidays or Tet, the staffs working on citizen protection stand 24/7 ready to handle serious cases to provide up-to-date and accurate information for the family of the person involved in the case, the press and the public.”

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