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Human Rights Remain a Concern in Vietnam

Dissident blogger Pham Viet Dao, standing at center, appears at a court in Hanoi, Vietnam Wednesday March 19, 2014.

Concerns include severe government restrictions of citizens’ political rights, limits on citizens’ civil liberties, and inadequate protection of citizens’ due process rights.

Every year, the U.S. State Department prepares detailed reports assessing respect for human rights around the world. The reports, required by law, evaluate how the governments of every country and a number of territories demonstrate respect for human dignity and individual freedoms. Lawmakers as well as authorities in the executive branch use the reports to help shape our nation’s foreign policies. They also signal to the human rights defenders and activists under siege that our government recognizes their struggle and stands with them.

There has been some improvement in the human rights picture in Vietnam, but many concerns remain. The most significant human rights problems there were severe government restrictions of citizens’ political rights, particularly their right to change their government through free and fair elections; limits on citizens’ civil liberties, including freedom of assembly and expression; and inadequate protection of citizens’ due process rights, including protection against arbitrary detention.

On January 1, the president signed and promulgated significant amendments to the constitution, including a dedicated chapter on human rights, and the government is debating the legal reforms to implement laws to reflect these constitutional changes.

We understand that every country, including the United States, has room to improve on human rights. We are committed to the work of advancing universal rights, building the partnerships that will move us forward, helping every man, woman, and child live up to their potential. We will continue to work with the Vietnamese government and people to advocate for greater respect of human rights in Vietnam. In cases of nations such as Vietnam, we are also committed to speaking out for those unable to do so for themselves.