Human rights in Vietnam
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Politics and government of
Human rights in Vietnam have long been a matter of much controversy between the Government of Vietnam and some international human rights organizations and Western governments, particularly that of the United States. Under the current constitution the Communist Party of Vietnam is the only one allowed to rule, the operation of all other political parties being outlawed: this is the main problem in terms of political freedom. Other human rights issues concern freedom of association, freedom of speech and freedom of the press.
Vietnam’s report about human rights in UN human rights council
|This article relies on references to primary sources. (May 2011)|
A report drafted by the Vietnamese government for on 18 June 2007 for the United Nations Human Rights Council to review the implementation of human rights in the territory of Viet Nam stated: For Viet Nam, the people are both the ultimate objective and driving force of any social and economic development policy, and protecting and promoting human rights are always the Government’s consistent policy. The 1992 Constitution, the supreme law of the country, guarantees that all citizens enjoy equal political, economic, cultural and social rights, and are equal before the law. Every citizen has the right to participate in the management of the State and the society, the freedoms of religion and belief, the right to free movement and residence in the territory of Viet Nam, the right to complaints and petitions, the right to employment, education and healthcare etc. regardless of gender, race and religion. On that basis, Vietnamese laws enumerate the specific rights in accordance with international human rights standards.
The report argued that freedoms of expression, press and information of the Vietnamese people were clearly illustrated through the rapid and diverse development of the mass media. As of 2008, there were over 700 press agencies with 850 publications, nearly 15,000 licensed journalists, 68 radio and television stations at central and provincial levels and land-based digital TV stations, 80 e-newspapers, thousands of news websites and 55 publishers. The people of Viet Nam were provided with greater access to advanced information technology, especially the internet, with about 20 million internet users, accounting for 23.5% of the population, higher than Asia’s average rate of 18%. Apart from the domestic media, the people of Viet Nam had access to dozens of foreign press agencies and television channels, including Reuters, BBC, VOA, AP, AFP, CNN and many other major international papers and magazines. The growing econonmy had enabled the Government to concentrate resources on such priorities as education, health, infrastructure development, human resource development, poverty reduction and assistance to underdeveloped areas. The government had promulgated and amended around 13,000 laws and by-law documents, in which civil and political rights are elaborated. The 1992 Constitution recognized fully all human rights (Articles 2 and 50).
The report highlighted the rapid growth, diverse forms of mass media, belief in the lively and diverse society in Vietnam, as well as securing the rights of women, children and the disabled. It argued that thanks to the protection and promotion of human rights, Vietnam’s economy, society, and culture have made great strides. But the report also acknowledged that there are still inadequacies in the country, difficulties to be solved, in which the legal system lacks uniformity and spot overlapping conflicts, not keep up with reality, leading to difficulties, misunderstandings and even affect the constitutional guarantee, the feasibility and transparency in the process of ensuring human rights.
According to the Vietnamese embassy, the UN ratified Vietnam’s human rights report. The embassy also stated that many of these countries appreciated Vietnam’s renewal, achievements and strong commitment to fostering human rights. Also, there were some opinions against the adoption but these were rejected.
Views of the West and international human rights organizations
In its 2004 report on Human Rights Practices, the U.S. State Department characterized Vietnam’s human rights record as “poor” and cited the continuation of “serious abuses.” According to the report, the government has imposed restrictions on freedom of speech, freedom of the press, freedom of assembly, and freedom of association.
Recent US reports maintain the same observations and international human rights organizations that share these views include Human Rights Watch and the Unrepresented Nations and Peoples Organization. The United Nations has highlighted religious persecution.
In 2009, the European Parliament expressed concern about “the growing climate of intolerance in Vietnam towards human rights defenders and members of officially unrecognised religious communities.” It called on the government to end repression against freedom of expression, belief, and assembly, and to release its “political prisoners”.
The government officially provides for freedom of religion and recognizes Buddhist, Roman Catholic, Protestant, Hoa Hao, Cao Dai, and Muslim denominations. However, the government supervises the clergies of the sanctioned groups (by approving appointments, for example) in the interest of “national unity”.
Effect of Doi Moi
According to a 1997 report by the China Internet Information Center, Vietnam has made a number of changes to its constitution, laws, and practical policies in the area of human rights since the Doi Moi, or the economic reform in 1986. For instance, the Constitution was amended in 1991 to enshrine the protection of “political, civil, economic, cultural and cultural rights” for the first time, and the penal code explicitly banned torture. Internationally, Vietnam was the second signatory of the Convention on the Rights of the Child. Although Vietnam retains capital punishment, the Constitution of 1992 reduced the number of eligible crimes from 44 to 29, and over 90% of the population has access to health care. In women’s rights, Vietnam ranks 2nd among Asia-Pacific countries and 9th among 135 countries in percentage of Female Parliamentarians.
In 2009, Le Cong Dinh, a lawyer who several years previously had acted for the government in a successful case against American catfish farmers, was arrested and charged with the capital crime of subversion; several of his associates were also arrested. Many Western governments condemned the move, and human rights groups alleged that the arrest was due to Le Cong Dinh’s support for freedom of speech. Amnesty International named him and his arrested associates to be prisoners of conscience.
Vietnam currently holds several other individuals in detention that Amnesty International considers to be prisoners of conscience: Cù Huy Hà Vũ, convicted of “conducting propaganda against the state” for giving interviews to foreign press; Nguyen Dan Que, convicted of “red-handed keeping and distributing documents” calling for the overthrow of the government; and Roman Catholic priest Nguyen Van Ly (also known as Father Thaddeus) detained for “spreading propaganda against the state.” Amnesty International has called for the immediate and unconditional release of all three men.
- National report of Vietnam under the universal periodic review of UN human rights council
- UN ratify Vietnam’s human rights report
- Vietnam adheres to human rights, says diplomat
- Report of Human Rights Watch
- “UPR: Vietnam’s Human Rights Violations Exposed by”. UNPO. 2009-03-25. Retrieved 2010-12-20.
- “Motion for a resolution on human rights in Vietnam and Laos – B7-0157/2009”. Europarl.europa.eu. Retrieved 2010-12-20.
- “Reports – Christian Solidarity Worldwide”. Dynamic.csw.org.uk. Retrieved 2010-12-20.
- “Human Rights in Vietnam During Renovation Process: Achievements, Challenges and Prospects”. China Internet Information Center. 1997-08-19. Retrieved 2010-08-28.
- Mydans, Seth (24 December 2009). “Vietnam Charges Lawyer With Capital Crime”. The New York Times. Retrieved 4 May 2010.
- “Vietnam lawyer subversion charge”. BBC News. 24 December 2009. Retrieved 4 May 2010.
- “Prominent Vietnamese activist jailed over democracy calls”. Amnesty International. 5 April 2011. Retrieved 17 April 2011.
- “VIETNAMESE AUTHORITIES MUST RELEASE DR. NGUYEN DAN QUE”. Amnesty International. 28 February 2011. Retrieved 17 April 2011.
- “VIET NAM: FURTHER INFORMATION: CATHOLIC PRIEST RISKS BEING RETURNED TO PRISON: FATHER NGUYEN VAN LY”. Amnesty International. 9 February 2011. Retrieved 17 April 2011.
- “Rafto Laureates”. Archived from the original on 2006-08-20. Retrieved 2006-12-09.
- This article incorporates public domain material from websites or documents of the Library of Congress Country Studies. – http://lcweb2.loc.gov/frd/cs/profiles/Vietnam.pdf Vietnam profile
- Vietnamese Human Rights Newspaper
- US Department of State Human Rights Report 2009 Vietnam
- Censorship in Vietnam – IFEX
- Human rights in Vietnam on websites of international NGOs: Human Rights Watch and FIDH
- Vietnam Human Rights Journal (blogspot)
- Vietnam Human Rights Network
- >latest report
- Vietnam: from “Vision” to Facts. Human Rights in Vietnam under its Chairmanship in ASEAN FIDH, 2010
- UNPO – Vietnam Human Rights Report 2009
- National report of Vietnam under the universal periodic review of UN human rights council
- Indigenous People Face Deliberate Persecution in Vietnam