Human Rights in Vietnam
The state of human rights in Vietnam is dire and has hit an all-time low level in 2017. Activism, religious diversity, political variance and even integrity within the judicial and police systems are almost non-existent. Vietnam has seen backlash for its controversial and rigid ways from the U.S. and other Western countries, but the country continues to ignore it and even fights opposition to their government in favor of preserving the authority of the ruling Vietnamese Communist Party.

Vietnamese Political Situation

The Vietnamese Communist Party is the sole state of leadership in Vietnam and has been in this position since 1980. The 1992 constitution, however, delegated more authority to the president and to the cabinet. The party, nevertheless, maintained responsibility for overall policy decisions. Challenges to the Vietnamese Communist Party are not tolerated, and often end in incarceration.

In fact, Vietnam actually prohibits the establishment or operation of independent political parties, labor unions and human rights organizations. Approval from Vietnamese authorities is needed for public gatherings. These authorities can refuse permission for meetings, marches, or public assemblies they believe to be politically unacceptable.

In 2011, the U.S. Department of State did a report on human rights in Vietnam and deemed the country to be “neither free nor fair” and claimed a large contributing factor for this state was the corruption of the judicial and police systems. The report stated that the Vietnamese judicial system was inefficient and experienced political influence and endemic corruption. Moreover, there were multiple cases of police brutality in both arrests and later detention, denial to a fair trial, ambiguity in arrests, and inhumane prison conditions. A government official from Vietnam fired back at the report stating that Vietnam supports human rights but opposes initiatives by outside nations interfering in internal affairs.

Reports on the Current Situation

The Vietnamese government has proven to be untrustworthy in their claims about human rights in Vietnam as well. The Vietnamese government has continuously claimed, since 2010, that there are no political prisoners in Vietnam. Yet as of April 2018, there have already been approximately 97 prisoners of conscience in the country.

In 2012, the U.N. ran their own human rights report on Vietnam and the results were increasingly positive, relative to the U.S. report in 2010. Though, the report still urged the government to implement major human rights treaties, like the Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment which is an international human rights treaty meant to prevent all acts of cruel and inhuman treatment across the world.

Yet, despite this relatively positive report, human rights in Vietnam took a decline in 2017. The Human Rights Watch reported at least 36 cases of violence against activist from January to April 2017. Moreover, the Human Rights Watch found that the judicial system was still very much under the control of the government and that it has failed to meet international standards.

In Vietnam, people who suffer from a drug dependency, including children, are sent to governmental detention centers where they are forced to do menial work or “labor therapy.” It was reported by state media that during the first six months of 2017, about 3,168 people were sent to centers in Ho Chi Minh City. It was also found that those that are most at risk of violent treatment in these centers are children, women and ethnic minorities which goes directly against the Convention against torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment treaty the U.N. urged Vietnam to implement back in 2012.

There are organizations who are actively attempting to intervene in the high number of arrests being made by law officials of The Vietnamese Communist Party, and who are also fighting for the improvement of Human Rights conditions in Vietnam.

Organizations Involved in improving Human Rights in Vietnam

Organizations like the Human Rights Watch and the International Federation For Human Rights (FIDH) have urgently been asking for donations and letters to intercede the Human Rights violations being made in Vietnam. Moreover, there has been an increase in the number of activists for Human Rights, within Vietnam, in the last decade.

However, Vietnamese activists have to remain relatively quiet in their effort to bring these violations to the attention of the rest of the world due to the high probability of being arrested. Since 2014, there have been a little over 160 human rights activists that have been jailed in Vietnam, and this number continues to rise.

Thus, it remains to be seen if the conditions of Human Rights in Vietnam will improve in the coming years, but with the high number of arrests already in 2018, the outlook does not look so bad. The government has to change it’s attitude towards this issue if the country plans to grow in this aspect.

– Isabella Agostini
Photo: Flickr


Human Rights in Vietnam
Lack of human rights in Vietnam remains a major issue. Citizens proceed to fight for their oppressed freedoms of speech and assembly, while harsh police brutality and imprisonment for activists and bloggers continues.

Authorities within The Communist Party of Vietnam continue to restrict basic rights, as bloggers and activists face frequent physical assaults and trial charges. According to the Human Rights Watch, during 2016, at least 34 people reported that unknown assailants beat them. Nguyen Chi Tuyen, a 43-year-old dissident blogger from Hanoi, wasn’t able to identify his attackers. However, he stated with complete certainty, “We know they were organized by the [country’s] security forces.”

The number of bloggers and activists convicted and sentenced to prison has risen from 7 to at least 19 within the past year. Consequently, it is clear that many human rights in Vietnam, such as freedom of speech and assembly, have been seized by the government.

Many of the bloggers on trial were accused of “abusing rights to freedom and democracy to infringe upon the interests of the state.” The judge who ordered their conviction also stated that their articles “present a one-sided and pessimistic view, causing anxiety and worry, and affecting people’s confidence [in the Communist Party].”

Despite the government’s accusations during these trials, many citizens argue that they have a hidden agenda working to withhold human rights in Vietnam. Governmental restrictions on freedom of movement are often used to keep bloggers and activists from attending public events, such as protests or human rights discussions.

Prominent rights campaigner Nguyen Quang A and blogger Pham Doan Trang were strategically detained by the government to prevent them from attending a private meeting with President Barack Obama during his visit to Vietnam. In reference to Nguyen Quang A, the Human Rights Watch reports that “between late March and early August 2016, police detained him six times to prevent him from meeting with foreign diplomats and delegations including Germany, the United States, the European Union and Australia.”

Commenting on the lack of U.N. assistance, Nguyen Anh Tuan, a 27-year-old Hanoi activist, stated, “I would say that the U.N. in Vietnam is very active when it comes to the less sensitive issues, for example, HIV prevention, but when it comes to political rights, for example, freedom of expressions, freedom of assembly, freedom of association, they are less active.”

As forceful government intervention continues to keep citizens from their basic human rights in Vietnam, it is important that their struggle for justice does not go unnoticed and more drastic interference is taken on the part of the United Nations.

Kendra Richardson

Photo: Flickr