State Department: ‘No Significant Changes’ in Vietnam’s Human Rights Situation



On April 22, the U.S. State Department released the 2023 Country Reports on Human Rights Practices: Vietnam, which states that the country had “no significant changes in the human rights situation” in the past year.

The 59-page report, consisting of nine sections, highlights notable human rights violations in the one-party Communist state. They include restrictions on freedom of speech and freedom of assembly and association, religious freedom issues, torture and other cruel treatment by government agents, unjustified arrests or prosecutions of journalists, the enforcement of criminal libel laws, and greater government control over the operation of nongovernmental and civil society organizations.

The State Department also mentioned the abduction of Duong Van Thai, a dissident blogger who fled to Thailand in 2019. It emphasized his arrest as an example of Hanoi’s “transnational repression” of critical voices. Thai was forcibly returned to Vietnam, where he awaited his trial on the charge of “distribution of anti-state propaganda.” Also, according to the report, as of October 31, 2023, Vietnam imprisoned at least 187 citizens due to their political or human rights activities, including 162 who have been convicted and sentenced and 25 who are in pretrial detention.

Regarding freedom of religion and the rights of ethnic minorities, there were allegations that the Vietnamese authorities continued to monitor, harass, and intimidate members of ethnic minority groups, especially in areas with high numbers of religious adherents. Meanwhile, the authorities frequently use national security laws to sentence members of ethnic minorities to lengthy prison terms.

Arbitrary arrest and detention of political activists and protestors remains a severe problem in Vietnam, according to the State Department. For example, the authorities in Ho Chi Minh City detained Phan Tat Thanh, administrator of a dissident Facebook fan page, and held him between July 5 and 12 without a warrant.

Le Xuan Dieu, another social media user, was also detained by the Ho Chi Minh City Police Department on July 31 and assaulted during the interrogation, resulting in multiple injuries. The police forced Dieu to admit his ownership of two Facebook accounts and forced him to sign a pledge not to disclose information about the assault or questioning.




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