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Vietnam Human Rights Day 2023

(FILE) Vietnamese dissident priest is escorted by police as he faces a court in Vietnam.
(FILE) Vietnamese dissident priest is escorted by police as he faces a court in Vietnam.

Each year on May 11, the United States observes Vietnam Human Rights Day to remember the importance of advancing fundamental freedoms.

Vietnam Human Rights Day 2023
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Each year on May 11, the United States observes Vietnam Human Rights Day - a day to remember the importance of advancing fundamental freedoms including freedom of expression, assembly, association, and religion.

Vietnam remains an authoritarian state ruled by a single party, the Communist Party of Vietnam. National Assembly elections in May 2021 were neither free nor fair, even as there was limited competition among Communist Party-vetted candidates.

Although Vietnam’s constitution and law prohibit torture, detainees commonly reported mistreatment and torture by police, according to the State Department’s most recent Human Rights report. In 2022, human rights monitoring groups issued multiple reports of police using excessive force while on duty and investigators allegedly torturing detainees.

“Arbitrary arrest and detention, particularly for political activists and individuals protesting land seizures or other matters deemed politically sensitive, remained a serious problem,” according to the Human Rights report.

Rights groups report that Vietnam currently holds more than 160 people in prison for peacefully exercising their civil and political rights. During the first nine months of 2022, according to media and reports from human rights groups, authorities detained 19 and convicted 26 persons who were exercising internationally recognized human rights, such as the freedoms of expression, peaceful assembly, and association. Most of these arrests and convictions were linked to online blogging, and defendants were charged with “making, storing, spreading, or propagating information, materials, or items” for the purpose of “opposing” the state and “abusing democratic freedom.”

NGOs said authorities at times subjected political detainees to examination and treatment of mental illness.

The Vietnamese constitution and law provide for freedom of expression; however, the government does not respect these rights. Independent journalists continue to face restrictions on freedom of movement, other forms of harassment, and physical attacks if they report on sensitive topics. Authorities block access to websites, often shut down blogs, and mandate internet service providers to remove content deemed politically unacceptable.

The Vietnamese government continues to exercise “significant government control over religious practices,” according to the latest International Religious Freedom Report. “Vague” legal provisions “permit restrictions on religious freedom in the stated interest of national security and social unity.”

The United States calls on Vietnam to release all prisoners of conscience immediately, and to allow all individuals in Vietnam to express their views and faith freely and assemble peacefully without fear of retribution.