Thursday, January 18, 2018, 22:49 (GMT+7)

Monday, January 01, 2018, 08:24 (GMT+7)
Vietnam’s human rights achievements are irrefutable

In today’s world, human rights are considered as a universal value of human kind and a fundamental legal regulation of law-ruled states regardless of their political regime and development level. Yet, in practice, human rights are always of some particularities because of historical tradition, cultural identity and political regime. As a result, it is common sense to find differences in human rights amongst nations and peoples.

 President Tran Dai Quang meets with the delegation of Vietnam Buddhist Sangha (photo: nhandan.com.vn)

In Vietnam, human rights and citizens’ rights are the fruit of the Party-led August 1945 Revolution. The 1946 Constitution - the first Constitution of the Democratic Republic of Vietnam, present-day Socialist Republic of Vietnam, fully prescribed citizens’ rights which included human rights and foreigners’ rights to reside lawfully in Vietnam despite the fact that this document made no mention of the definition of human rights.

Undeniably, over the course of the war years, human rights issue in Vietnam, to some extent, still exposed some limitations due to “centrally planned” and “subsidized” economy and theoretical tunnel vision. Still, since 1986, Vietnam has shifted to a new model of socialism in which it has built a socialist law-governed state of the people, by the people, and for the people and pursued a socialist-oriented market economy with a view to the goal of prosperous people and strong, democratic, equitable, and civilized nation”; hence, citizens’ and human rights have always been fully guaranteed.

However, given sinister motives and conservative political thinking, some of the U.S. and EU agencies and organizations have discriminated against our State and political regime. They take “democracy” and “human rights” issues as a pretext for accusing Vietnam of violating human rights. For instance, a group of the US radical Representatives usually conduct “hearings” on “Vietnamese human rights records” and compile “Vietnamese human rights Bill”. Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labour (the US Department of State) annually draws up “the annual country report on human rights practices” and “the international religious freedom report” in which they twist and tarnish Vietnamese human rights records, stating that “Vietnam is a state whose religion falls under its Government’s dominance”. The next part of the so-called “report” usually touches on a suggestion on “human rights standards” which acts as a condition of relationship between the two nations. In addition, the EU representative office in Vietnam often “updates” cases of national security violations as stated in the 1999 Penal Code, namely “Propagating against Socialist Republic of Vietnam (Article 88); “disrupting security” (Article 89); “Abusing democratic freedom to infringe upon the interests of the State, the legitimate rights and interests of organizations and citizens” (Article 258). Accordingly, they voice their “concern” about arrests and trials of various Internet users, including the Facebookers for the purpose of opposing our State and socialist regime, namely Nguyen Ngoc Nhu Quynh (Blogger Me Nam), Hoang Duc Binh (Nghe An), etc. They argue that “Those arrests run counter to commitments to domestic and international human rights, particularly the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights to which Vietnam has been a signatory since 1982, etc. Those trends are liable to impede Vietnamese progress on human rights”.

No matter how hard they have tried to twist, accuse and tarnish in any shape or form, it is unlikely to rebut substantial achievements in ensuring human rights by our Party and State, especially in the process of national renewal and international integration since 1986.

When it comes to Vietnamese human rights achievements, first and foremost, it is essential to mention political and ideological foundation by Communist Party of Vietnam (CPV). Human rights have been consistently considered to be an objective in CPV’s Platform and guidelines since its inception on 3rd, February 1930. According to the 2011 Platform on national construction in the period of   transition to socialism, the socialist society that our people have been building is the one with prosperous people and a strong, democratic, equitable, and civilized nation; with humans as both a focal point of development strategy and development entity; respecting and protecting human rights, linking human rights to national rights and interests and people’s rights to mastery. The 12th National Party Congress continuously affirms our State’s commitments to the international community on human rights “due regard is devoted to taking care of humans’ happiness and comprehensive development, protecting and ensuring humans’ legitimate rights and interests; respecting and implementing international treaties on human rights of which Vietnam is a signatory”.

To date, Vietnam has joined and signed almost all the fundamental international conventions on human rights and specific conventions on rights of vulnerable groups. Following international commitments, our State internalized those afore-mentioned conventions in national legal system. The 2013 Constitution dedicated one chapter (2nd Chapter) to “human rights, fundamental rights and obligations of citizens”, stating that “human rights and citizens' rights in the political, civil, economic, cultural and social fields shall be recognized, respected, protected and guaranteed in accordance with the Constitution and law” (Clause 1, Article 14). Together with the 2013 Constitution, the Vietnamese current legal system is not merely in accord with international conventions on human rights, but is judged one of the most progressive ones in the world.

Civil and political rights have been guaranteed first and foremost through elections. Notably, according to 14th –tenure 2014 National Assembly Election, the rate of voters accounted for 99.35%; deputy structure: 86 ethnic minority deputies, 133 female deputies, 21 non-partisan deputies. For the first time ever Vietnamese legislative body was headed by a chairwoman. Over the past years, the operation of National Assembly has been conducted in democratic, straightforward and innovative fashion with a view to promoted mechanism of power supervision as evidenced by wide-ranging “hot” issues of public interests have been brought up in National Assembly’s question-and-answer sessions.

Rights to freedom of belief and religion and rights of ethnic minorities have been further guaranteed. In November 2016, the National Assembly approved Law on Belief and Religion (substituted for Decree on Belief and Religion). According to this Law, rights of individuals include those of persons who are detained and serving prison sentence allowed to adopt belief practices, and foreigners’ rights to Vietnamese religion and belief, etc.

Rights to freedom of speech and the press have been guaranteed. At present, there are 858 printing press agencies; 105 electronic press agencies, and 207 general websites of the press in Vietnam. Not merely Vietnamese citizens but foreigners residing in Vietnam have full access to information from leading news agencies such as CNN, BBC, TV5, NHK, DW, Australia Network, KBS, and Bloomberg. Vietnamese people also have access to articles by great press agencies such as AFP, AP, BBC, Reuters, Kyodo, etc. Many experts judged Vietnam as a country with leading Internet growth rate in the region, especially Facebook website. Presently, there are 35 million Facebook account users in Vietnam, including 21 million browsing this website via mobile devices on a daily basis. According to assessment by many international organizations, Vietnam is the fastest-growing market for Facebook and a nation with the 3rd highest number of Internet users in Southeast Asia.

In the socioeconomic and cultural fields, human rights are guaranteed via economic growth rate. In the 2011-2016 period, Vietnamese average GDP stood by 5.91%. In the grim scenario of global economy, this relatively high rate enabled Vietnam to be ranked among the top nations with leading growth rate regionally and globally. GDP per capita increased by 2200 USD (2016) from 1024 USD (2008). Thanks to the State’s various policies designed to supporting poor households and people in remote, isolated and ethnic minority areas, the number of poor households decreased sharply as evidenced by Program No. 135 for assisting infrastructure investment and production development for extremely difficult communes”. During the 3rd Phase of the Program in the 2016-2020 period, the State invested 239,316.6 billion VND in building new-type rural areas and alleviating poverty sustainably. As a result, Vietnam became the bright spot in the work of hunger eradication and poverty alleviation on regional and global scale.  

The Party and State have devoted special attention to rights of vulnerable and disadvantaged groups (women, children, and the disabled). Vietnam was the first signatory in the region and the second one across the world to the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child in 1989. Annually, Ministry of Labour, War Invalids and Social Affairs has cooperated with relevant ministries, branches, agencies and localities in launching “Action Month for Children” in a bid to marshal the whole society to protect and take care of children, creating a wholesome and safe environment for their comprehensive development physically and mentally. Following 7 years of implementing Program “Hearts for Children” co-organized by Vietnam National Television and Military Telecommunications Corporation, 90 billion VND have been raised to assist 2700 needy children under the age of 16 in successfully operating for their innate cardiovascular diseases. In terms of women’s rights, the National Assembly has promulgated laws in which women’s rights are fully encompassed in national legal system. In the labour and employment fields, the proportion of female labourers accounts for 48.3% of the total labour force; the rate of female business executives and managers stands at 24.9%.

When it comes to Vietnamese human rights achievements nowadays, it merits a mention of our State’s international prestige in general and human rights in particular. Meanwhile, the hostile forces and political opportunists usually join Western media in twisting and accusing Vietnam of “violating human rights”, especially freedom of expression and the press even on the Internet. They even comment that “Vietnam is being lonely”. Conversely, in reality, Vietnam’s international prestige has been increasingly heightened. Most recently, capitalizing on 2017 Asia Pacific Economic Conference in Vietnam, many anti-Communist organizations sent leaders of various nations their “messages” which “forcefully demanded Vietnamese observance of human rights “standards”. Still, 2017 APEC summit week ended in success, officially bringing successful APEC year-long event to an end. As the host nation of APEC, Vietnam was in the international spotlight and left an indelible imprint on international friends and partners thanks to its elaborate and professional organization as well as active and proactive initiatives and proposals for APEC enhanced cooperation and connection. Despite the fact that Vietnam was bracing itself for Storm No. 12 (known as Damrey Storm) and repairing resultant damage, it spared no effort to successfully hold APEC summit week in a formal and amicable fashion. Even though 2017 APEC event concluded, the resonance of a dynamic, vibrant and responsible forum as well as an innovatory, active and hospitable Vietnam will be continuously widespread, thereby intensifying Vietnam’s image and prestige in the international arena. Those truths strongly deny all distortions.

There have existed numerous socioeconomic issues that need to be resolutely addressed in our society amidst integration and development trends. Yet, it can not be denied that our Party and State have guaranteed human rights on a firmly political and legal basis. Simultaneously, now that it is the nature of our socialist regime, human rights and other civil, political, economic, social and cultural rights have been increasingly promoted.

Cao Duc Thai, PhD - Former Head of Human Rights Research Institute; Pham Van Bang - Border Guard Academy

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