18 March 2007
According to the latest U.S. human rights report, Vietnam's record remains unsatisfactory. Vietnam is an authoritarian state ruled by the Communist Party of Vietnam where citizens cannot change their government.
Vietnamese authorities continue to exert control over the press and the Internet. The law requires journalists to pay damages to individuals or organizations harmed as a result of their reporting, even if the reports are true. As a result, there is less investigative reporting. The government forbids direct access to the Internet through foreign Internet Service Providers. Domestic service providers are required to store information transmitted on the Internet for at least fifteen days and must allow public security agents to monitor Internet activities.
Political opposition movements in Vietnam are officially prohibited and activists continue to be arrested. In the past year, police have detained members of the People's Democracy Party of Vietnam, which advocates peaceful political change. Several members of the pro-democracy group the 8-4-0-6 Bloc have also been detained. Father Nguyen Van Ly and Lawyers Nguyen Van Dai and Le Thi Cong Nhan have been arrested and are being charged under Article Eighty-Eight for disseminating propaganda against the state. There are also confirmed reports that former National Endowment for Democracy fellow Le Quoc Quan was detained on March 9th. Prominent political activists such as Do Nam Hai, Pham Hong Son, and Nguyen Dan Que face repeated harassment for their political activities.
An area that has seen some improvement is respect for religious freedom. According to the U.S. State Department human rights report, "conditions for most religious believers were markedly improved from previous years; in particular, hundreds of Protestant congregations were legalized throughout the country." Nevertheless, the 2005 government framework on religion continues to limit education, medical, and charitable work by religious groups.
The United States, said U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, is recommitting itself to stand with those courageous men and women who struggle for their freedom and their rights. And the U.S. is recommitting itself to call every government to account that still treats the basic rights of its citizens as options rather than, in President Bush's words, the non-negotiable demands of human dignity.