“Vietnamese citizens still do not enjoy their universally recognized human rights and fundamental freedoms.”
“The United States - Vietnam relationship is a dynamic one,” U.S. Deputy Assistant Secretary of State Daniel Baer recently told a group gathered in Washington, D.C. However, “Vietnamese citizens still do not enjoy their universally recognized human rights and fundamental freedoms.” U.S. concern regarding human rights in Vietnam, he said “touches every aspect of our relationship.”
Speaking to mark Vietnam Human Rights Day, Dr. Baer recently returned from leading a delegation to Vietnam for the U.S. – Vietnam Human Rights Dialogue.
The delegation acknowledged positive steps by the Vietnamese government, including the extension of the comment period for the country’s draft constitution.
“It’s now incumbent upon authorities to give those comments considered and fair review and to incorporate this grassroots voice of the people into the revised text of the constitution,” said Dr. Baer.
Dr. Baer said the U.S would like to see a system in Vietnam that provides rule of law with equality for all before the law, coupled with fair implementation. The U.S. is concerned regarding an increase in the harassment and jailing of bloggers and activists. Internet policies of blocking, hacking and surveillance restrict the free flow of information.
“Many of Vietnam’s more than 120 political prisoners are in jail for exercising their right to freedom of expression,” he said.
Constitutionally, citizens in Vietnam have the right to free speech, freedom of religious belief, and other basic rights, however, noted Dr. Baer, “Reality … plays out differently.”
“Such imbalances in the rule of law undermine Vietnam’s development and undercut its potential,” said Dr. Baer noting that the U.S. discussed these issues and many more with the Vietnamese government.
“Without progress on human rights there are limits to the levels of development that Vietnam can achieve and that our relationship can achieve, he said. Therefore, said Dr. Baer, the U.S. will continue to urge Vietnam to improve its protection of human rights…, because we care about those who are denied human rights, and it’s the right thing to do.”