Week Ending August 2, 2013
H.R.1897 Vietnam Human Rights Act of 2013
The bill prohibits any non-humanitarian aid to the Government of Vietnam that is greater than that provided in FY 2012 unless the President certifies that Vietnam has made substantial progress in the areas of respecting political, media, and religious freedoms, minority rights, access to US refugee programs and actions to end trafficking of persons and the release of political prisoners.
As is customary in such bills, the President is given the authority to waive the requirements if such assistance would promote purposes of this act or are otherwise in the US national interest. The President can waive broadly or only for specific areas of the Act.
The bill expresses the Sense of Congress that:
(1) the United States should take measures to overcome the jamming of Radio Free Asia by Vietnam and that the Broadcasting Board of Governors should not cut staffing, funding, or broadcast hours for the Vietnamese language services of the Voice of America and Radio Free Asia;
(2) U.S.-Vietnam educational and cultural exchange programs should promote freedom and democracy in Vietnam;
(3) the Secretary of State should oppose Vietnam’s candidacy for membership on the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC);
(4) Vietnam should be designated as a country of particular concern for religious freedom; and
(5) Vietnam does not fully comply with the minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking and is not making significant efforts to bring itself into compliance.
The bill further notes that trade between the US and Vietnam, since the end of the trade embargo in 1994, reached nearly $25 billion in 2012 bujt that Vietnam has not matched that success with greater political freedom and substantial improvements in basic human rights for Vietnamese citizens. Since Vietnam’s accession to the WTO on January 11, 2007, the Government of Vietnam arbitrarily arrested and detained numerous individuals for their peaceful advocacy of religious freedom, democracy, and human rights, including Father Nguyen Van Ly, human rights lawyers Nguyen Van Dai, Le Thi Cong Nhan, Cu Huy Ha Vu, and Le Cong Dinh, and bloggers Nguyen Van Hai, Ta Phong Tan, and Le Van Son and continues to detain, imprison, place under house arrest, convict, or otherwise restrict persons for the peaceful expression of dissenting political or religious views.
It is the sense of Congress that any programs of educational and cultural exchange between the United States and Vietnam should actively promote progress toward freedom and democracy in Vietnam by providing opportunities to Vietnamese nationals from a wide range of occupations and perspectives to see freedom and democracy in action and, also, by ensuring that Vietnamese nationals who have already demonstrated a commitment to these values are included in such programs.
It is the sense of Congress that the Secretary of State should strongly oppose, and encourage other members of the United Nations to oppose, the candidacy of Vietnam for membership on the United Nations Human Rights Council for the term beginning in 2014.
It is the sense of Congress that Vietnam should be designated as a country of particular concern for religious freedom pursuant to section 402(b) of the International Religious Freedom Act of 1998 (22 U.S.C. 6442(b)).
It is the sense of Congress that the Government of Vietnam does not fully comply with the minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking and is not making significant efforts to bring itself into compliance, and this determination should be reflected in the annual report to Congress required pursuant to section 110(b) of the Trafficking Victims Protection Act of 2000 (22 U.S.C. 7107(b)).
Sponsor: Rep Smith, Christopher H. [NJ-4]
House on Passage:
On motion to suspend the rules and pass the bill, as amended Agreed to by the Yeas and Nays: (2/3 required): 405 – 3 (Roll no. 435)
Motion to recommit.
Text of the motion:
Senate on Passage:
OTHER BILL DATA
Cost to the taxpayers: Based on information from the Department of State, CBO estimates that implementing the reporting requirements in H.R. 1897 would have discretionary costs of less than $500,000 a year, totaling about $1 million over the 2013-2018 period,
Pay-as-you-go requirements: Apply
Regulatory and other impact: H.R. 1897 contains no intergovernmental or private-sector mandates as defined in the Unfunded Mandates Reform Act and would not affect the budgets of state, local, or tribal governments.
Earmark Certification: Not provided
Duplication of programs:
Budget Authority: Not provided