Govt set to release more than 4,000 prisoners

The deputy chairman of the President’s Office has confirmed that the pardons included 4,180 inmates.

Pope Francis and Vietnam President Tran Dai Quang talked for 15 minutes about the good relations between the Holy See and Vietnam

The deputy chairman, Giang Son said at a press conference in Hanoi that the pardons, which were expected in the run-up to January’s Lunar New Year holiday, included 4,180 inmates convicted of an array of crimes.

Son added that the prisoners had been vetted in a “strict approval process” to ensure they were at a low risk of re-offending.

Lt.-Gen. Nguyen Bang of the Ministry of Public Security told newsmen that pardon recipients were mainly well-behaved prisoners.

“Although rights group maintain that Vietnam holds scores of political prisoners, it was unclear if any were included in Wednesday’s pardoning,’’ Bang noted.

New York-based organisation Human Rights Watch said in December 2015 that Vietnam was holding no fewer than 130 prisoners of conscience.

However, Hanoi maintained that only those who broke the law were imprisoned and denied holding any political prisoners.

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