Cassidy introduces bill to compel human rights advances in Vietnam as part of U.S. relations
March 8, 2016
U.S. Sen. Bill Cassidy (R-LA) introduced a bill on Friday that would take steps to curb the Vietnamese government’s repressions of its citizens.
Under the Vietnam Human Rights Act, S. 2632, the Vietnamese president would be required to meet specific human rights conditions over the course of a year. Otherwise, non-humanitarian assistance to the Vietnamese government would be capped at levels rendered in fiscal year 2014.
“The communist government in Vietnam continues to violate the fundamental rights of its citizens, including independent religious groups, ethnic minorities and individuals vulnerable to human trafficking,” Cassidy, a member of the Senate Human Rights Caucus, said.
Currently, Vietnam’s one-party political system limits its citizens’ freedom of association, opinion, peaceful assembly, press and Internet access.
Under Cassidy’s bill, the Vietnamese government would be required to take specific steps to ensure human rights before current prohibitions on the sale of lethal military equipment to Vietnam are loosened.
“The Vietnamese community is a part of the fabric of our nation,” Cassidy said. “As the Vietnamese government seeks to expand trade and security relationships with the United States, it must make tangible human rights improvements a top priority.”
Additionally, the Vietnam Human Rights Act suggests that the Department of State should designate Vietnam as “a country of particular concern” due to its religious freedom violations. The secretary of state would then be required to submit an annual report to Congress on the bill’s implementation that includes an accounting of citizens who have been detained in Vietnam for pursuing human rights.