Sunday, November 29, 2020, 11:47 (GMT+7)

Sunday, October 14, 2018, 09:42 (GMT+7)
Undeniable progress in human rights in Vietnam

Identifying the people as the goal and motive force for the development of the country, the Government of Vietnam consistently enforces human rights in all aspects of social life. With that viewpoint, the realization of human rights in Vietnam has recorded a number of important achievements. It is undeniable.

Recently, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Socialist Republic of Vietnam has introduced the Third National "Universal Periodic Review of Human Rights in Vietnam" and planned to submit it to the United Nations meeting which is scheduled for early 2019. Taking advantage of this event, several organizations and individuals have criticized, misrepresented and denied the important achievements and advances in human rights protection of Vietnam. Typically, the "International Federation for Human Rights" (FIDH) and its branch "The Vietnam Committee on Human Rights” (VCHR), stated that “the Vietnamese Government has made little progress in adjusting strict laws in line with international standards, and it also has made no adjustment on law toward democratic principles ... ", "Vietnam conceals violations of human rights in its Universal Periodic Review", etc.

Is it the fact? Is it right that Vietnam "has made no progress" in human rights in recent years? The fact is not what they said. It is a subjective, prejudiced assessment aiming at denying and distorting guidelines and viewpoints of the Party, policies and law of the State of Vietnam.

First of all, it must be affirmed that the Review of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Vietnam has complied with the requirements of the United Nations, presenting the full contents in accordance with the regulations and the drafting process; there are agencies and organizations involved in drafting documents. Vietnam has attached great importance to and fulfilled its commitments and obligations under the Universal Periodic Review (UPR) and has followed most of the recommendations made by the United Nations in the previous human rights review  4 years ago (second Review made in 2014). The Review draws on experience in ensuring human rights as well as existing issues due to objective and subjective causes that the Government of Vietnam is trying to solve without any concealment as mentioned in VCHR report.

In the field of institutions and laws, Vietnam has so far joined, signed all basic international treaties on human rights, including “The United Nations Convention against Torture and other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment "(CAT). This is a strong commitment of Vietnam to ensure human rights; to prevent all acts of torture, inhuman or degrading treatment or deteriorating human dignity in any circumstances, by any individual or organization, including law enforcement agencies.

Since 2014, the National Assembly of the Socialist Republic of Vietnam has amended and promulgated a number of laws and codes to create legal basis for all activities of individuals and organizations in general and for ensuring the human right in particular, such as the Law on Religion and Belief (2016); the Press Law (2016), laying the foundations for ensuring better freedom of belief and religious practice for the people; applying the principle of non-censorship to the publication, radio and television broadcasting. In addition, there are also other laws, such as the Legal Aid Law (2017), the Law on Amnesty (2018), etc. Noticeably, the promulgation of the Criminal Procedure Code, the Law on the Enforcement of Temporary Custody and Detention (2015), and the Law on the Execution of Criminal Judgements has ensured the trials and the rights of the detainees in accordance with the law, etc.

In particular, the promulgation of the Constitution of the Socialist Republic of Vietnam in 2013 is a new development in the field of human rights. Chapter II on "Human Rights and Citizens’ Fundamental Rights and Duties", the rights in civic, political, economic, social and cultural fields are fully regulated and compatible with international conventions on human rights of the United Nations to which Vietnam are a signatory. Three principles of human rights are set forth in this chapter. These are: 1. All human rights are recognized, respected, protected and guaranteed (Article 14.1); 2. "Human rights and citizen rights can only be restricted by law in imperative circumstances for the reasons of national defence, national security, social order and security, social morality and community well-being"(Article 14.2); 3. "A defendant is regarded as innocent until the crime is proved in accordance with legal procedure and the sentence of the Court has acquired full legal effect ..." (Article 31). Article 25 of the Constitution also states: "the citizens shall enjoy the right to freedom of speech, freedom of the press, freedom of access to information, freedom of assemble, freedom of association and freedom of demonstration. The practice of these rights is governed by the law. " These show that the Government of Vietnam has been very active and recorded significant outcomes in the development and perfection of the law system on human rights. More than that, the law of Vietnam also manifests its humanity, for the people, in reverse to what was stated by FIDH.

The 2013 Constitution clearly states that the Communist Party of Vietnam not only plays the leading role of the State and society, but also maintains "close ties with the people”, “be accountable to the People for its decisions” and “operate within the framework of the Constitution and the law". Thus, there is no case in which the Communist Party of Vietnam and its members have a "monopoly", "stand above the law" as some one try to distort online.

In the aspect of human rights protection, under the leadership of the Communist Party of Vietnam and the management and organization of the State, the renewal process of our people continues to gain achievements of historical significance in all aspects: social security is secured and enhanced. This is an important basis for human rights, especially the basic rights to be better guaranteed. By 2015, Vietnam had completed the Millennium Development Goals. As a result, 43 million Vietnamese had escaped from poverty and hunger; by the new standard, in 2017, the poverty rate in Vietnam was 7%. Vietnam completed universalization of primary education in 2010 and that of preschool in 2017. The health care service for the people has made progress, the system of medical facilities has been formed widely across the country; the number of doctors and patient beds per ten thousand people has increased rapidly. The quality of the health care service has been improved. This is a great effort made by the Party, State of Vietnam.

In recent years, implementing the Resolution of the 12th National Party Congress, the political, social, economic conditions and foreign relations of the country have made important progress. In the election of deputies to the 14th National Assembly (for the 2016-2021 tenure), 67,485,482 turnout of voters voted, accounted for 99.35%. It is a clear evidence of the exercise of freedom and democracy, reflecting the high political consciousness of citizens towards the country that no forces can distort or deny. The freedom of speech and freedom of press are universally exercised. By 2017, 982 press agencies had been licensed. They have provided timely information, reflecting all the activities of social life, contributing to socio-economic development and people’s improved living condition. Everyone has the right to create press works, to provide information for press agencies and express their opinion on the developments of the country and the world, providing opinion on formulating and implementing the guidelines of the Party, policies and laws of the State, etc. With a progressive, appropriate policy to take a short cut to the development of science and technology, Vietnam has invested in infrastructure, creating favorable conditions for the people to access the Internet and information of domestic and international press agencies. According to the International Social Network Research Organization "Next Web", Vietnam is now among the "top 10" countries having the largest number of Facebook users in the world, with 64 million ones, accounting for 3% of total Facebook accounts globally. In addition, Vietnam has 336 social networks, 1,174 licensed websites.

In economic sector, according to the Government’s report in 2017, the macroeconomic situation was stable, GDP growth reached 6.7%; major balances of the economy were guaranteed; average GDP per capita is estimated at VND 53.5 million VND, equivalent to 2,385 USD, increased by 170 USD compared to 2016. According to the Government's report at the regular press session in August 2018, GDP growth in 2018 is estimated at 6.7%, budget revenues exceed 3% -5%; public debt decreased, inflation rate is below 4%; labor productivity improved; both the quality and quantity of the development of the country increased. As a result, the people's living conditions have been improved, the people's belief in the Party and the State has been strengthened and the international prestige of Vietnam has increased.

For the sake of equitable development for people from all walks of life, there are only a very small number of countries that have policies to support vulnerable social groups, people in remote areas, ethnic minorities like Vietnam. There are credit institutions for the poor, such as the "Social Policy Bank" where the poor can borrow money directly or through trust socio-political organizations, such as the Farmers' Association, the Veteran Association, etc. In addition, the State has also allocated a huge budget to the  program No. 135, aiming at developing essential technical infrastructure, local public services such as electricity, schools, clinics, clean water, thus contributing to improve living standard for the communes with special difficulties, ethnic minorities and mountainous areas. According to 2016-2020 plan, nearly 2,300 communes will be invested.

Furthermore, the implementation of gender equality for the advancement of women is a matter of concern. At present, the ratio of female deputies to Vietnam’s 14th National Assembly (2016 - 2021) is 26.72%, which is higher than the previous two terms and also higher than the world average (23.6%). And for the first time, the National Assembly of Vietnam is led by a female president.

With above mentioned evidences, it can be reaffirmed that in comparision to the second Review (2014), the assurance of human rights in Vietnam in all fields, from the law to the reality has recorded a number of important achievements and new developments. That is the truth that no one can deny.

Doctor Cao Duc Thai

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