Human Rights Reports
US Department of State
Published date: 25 June 2020
VIETNAM: Tier 2 Watch List
The Government of Vietnam does not fully meet the minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking but is making significant efforts to do so. These efforts included providing trafficking victims the affirmative right to legal representation in judicial proceedings; increasing the amount of time victims could remain in a shelter by one month and the amount of financial support provided to them for certain basic needs; continuing to operate large-scale awareness campaigns in communities vulnerable to trafficking, including workers migrating overseas; and training law enforcement officials. However, the government did not demonstrate overall increasing efforts compared to the previous reporting period. For the third consecutive year, the government identified significantly fewer victims than the previous year. Victim identification and assistance procedures remained cumbersome, slow, and ineffective. A lack of interagency coordination and unfamiliarity among some provincial officials with anti-trafficking law and victim protection roles and responsibilities continued to impede anti-trafficking efforts. Labor recruitment firms—most affiliated with state-owned enterprises—and unlicensed brokers reportedly charged workers seeking overseas employment higher fees than the law allows; those workers incurred high debts and were at heightened risk for forced labor, including through debt-based coercion. Despite reports of official complicity, the government did not report any investigations, prosecutions, or convictions of officials complicit in trafficking offenses. Therefore Vietnam remained on the Tier 2 Watch List for the second consecutive year.
US Department of State
Published date: 11 March 2020
The Socialist Republic of Vietnam is an authoritarian state ruled by a single party, the Communist Party of Vietnam (CPV), and led by General Secretary and President Nguyen Phu Trong, Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc, and Chairwoman of the National Assembly Nguyen Thi Kim Ngan. The most recent National Assembly elections, held in 2016, were neither free nor fair, despite limited competition among CPV-vetted candidates.
The Ministry of Public Security is responsible for internal security and controls the national police, a special national security investigative agency, and other internal security units. The Vietnam People’s Army aids civilian authorities to provide relief in times of natural disaster. Civilian authorities maintained effective control over the security forces.
Significant human rights issues included: unlawful or arbitrary killings by the government; forced disappearance; torture by government agents; arbitrary arrests and detentions by the government; political prisoners; significant problems with the independence of the judiciary; arbitrary or unlawful interference with privacy; the worst forms of restrictions on free expression, the press, and the internet, including arbitrary arrest and prosecution of government critics, censorship, site blocking, and criminal libel laws; substantial interference with the rights of peaceful assembly and freedom of association; significant restrictions on freedom of movement including exit bans on activists; restrictions on political participation; significant acts of corruption; outlawing of independent trade unions; trafficking in persons; and use of compulsory child labor.
The government occasionally took corrective action, including prosecutions, against officials who violated the law, but police officers and state officials generally acted with impunity.
Published date: 30 January 2020
The year saw a surge in the number of prisoners of conscience. A crackdown on the rights to freedom of expression, association and peaceful assembly continued. A new cybersecurity law entered into force in January, aimed at restricting human rights online. The authorities subjected human rights defenders and activists to harassment, intimidation, and abusive restrictions both online and offline. The government prosecuted human rights defenders and activists, using a range of criminal law provisions. Prolonged pre-trial detention was common. Prisoners of conscience were denied access to lawyers and family members, lacked proper health care, and in some cases were subjected to torture.
Viet Nam signed a free trade agreement with the EU in July that was expected to boost economic growth. Its provisions required the Vietnamese government to allow the establishment of independent trade unions, and to improve the legal framework relating to labour rights. The agreement also required the Vietnamese government to ratify a range of International Labour Organization conventions.
Published date: 14 January 2020
Vietnam did little to improve its abysmal human rights record in 2019. The government continues to restrict all basic civil and political rights, including freedom of expression, association, assembly, and the rights to freely practice beliefs and religion. It prohibits the formation and operation of any organization or group deemed threatening to the Communist Party’s monopoly of power.
Authorities block accesses to websites and request that social media and/or telecommunications companies remove contents deemed to be politically sensitive. Those who criticize the one party regime face police intimidation, harassment, restricted movement, physical assault, detention, and arrest and imprisonment. Police detain political detainees for months without access to legal counsel and subject them to abusive interrogations. Party-controlled courts sentence bloggers and activists on bogus national security charges. In 2019, authorities convicted at least 25 people in politically motivated cases.
In January, Vietnam presented an inaccurate picture of its human rights record during its Universal Periodic Review (UPR) at the United Nations Human Rights Council in Geneva. The government implausibly claimed that it had fully implemented 159, and partially implemented a further 16, of the 182 recommendations accepted at its previous Universal Periodic Review (UPR) in 2014.
In October, Vietnam endorsed the Safe Schools Declaration, an international political commitment to protect education during armed conflict.