HUMAN RIGHTS REPORT 28-3-2005
Ngoại Trưởng Condoleezza Rice vừa mới cho phổ biến Báo Cáo Nhân Quyền (Human Rights Report) trên toàn Thế Giới tại Bộ Ngoại Giao Hoa Kỳ chiều hôm nay, thứ Hai, 28-3-2005 trước đông đảo báo chí. Bản Báo Cáo đă mạnh mẽ đă kích Trung Cộng, Pakistan. Riêng phần CHXHCN Việt Nam, mặc dù có vài lời khích lệ về "sự tiến bộ", nhưng chưa có dấu hiệu ǵ Việt Cộng sẽ sớm được xoá tên khỏi "sổ bụi đời" danh sách đen CPC (quốc gia cần quan tâm đặc biệt), vẫn bị lên án v́ đàn áp tôn giáo, nhân quyền tại Việt Nam.
(Released on March 28, 2005)
Vietnam is a single-party state, ruled and controlled by the Communist Party of Vietnam. The Government’s human rights record remained poor, and it continued to commit serious abuses. However, the release of five prominent political and religious dissidents prior to the 2005 Tet (New Year) holiday was a welcomed development. The Government of Vietnam significantly restricted freedom of religion, speech, the press, assembly and association through a number of means during 2004. The Government’s intolerance of political dissent, including on the Internet, resulted in the arrests and sentencing of several democracy activists who criticized the Government. The Government censored domestic media sources, blocked foreign radio stations and websites and denied citizens the right to form independent organizations. The Government also subjected religious communities to strict registration requirements and obstructed the activities of some "unauthorized" religious groups. Restrictions on assembly for religious practice were particularly acute for ethnic-minority Protestant groups in the Central and Northwest Highlands, and violations of religious freedom in these regions included reports of forced renunciations of faith and the detention and beating of religious leaders.
The United States has maintained close ties with political activists and religious groups in Vietnam in order to identify and highlight abuses and to encourage efforts for reform. United States officials have pushed for progress on human rights and political and legal reform during bilateral meetings at all levels in Vietnam and the United States. Through democracy and rule of law programs, the United States seeks to heighten awareness of democratic principles at the grassroots level and develop a transparent and responsive legal system in Vietnam. United States diplomatic efforts have influenced the Government to release political and religious dissidents, to permit opening of new churches in the Central Highlands and to allow greater tolerance for the operation of "unauthorized" churches in several areas. United States programmatic efforts have helped protect trafficked women, supported efforts against child labor, improved employment access for the disabled and improved worker/management relations.
The United States engaged the Vietnamese Government diplomatically on human rights issues at all levels over the course of the year. United States officials traveled widely through the country to investigate allegations of abuse, and virtually every Mission officer and most senior U.S. visitors to Vietnam raised human rights in their meetings with Vietnamese officials at local, provincial and national levels. In November, then Deputy Assistant Secretary for Democracy, Human Rights and Labor Elizabeth Dugan met with senior officials in Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City. She urged the Vietnamese Government to improve overall respect for its citizens’ human rights and raised a number of specific concerns. Through the Embassy in Hanoi and Consulate General in Ho Chi Minh City, U.S. officials explained international concerns and human rights standards to Vietnamese officials from the local level to the highest ranks of the Government and the Party. In Washington, State Department officials repeatedly stressed human rights concerns in meetings with visiting Vietnamese officials. This constant diplomatic pressure has increased the Vietnamese Government’s attention to human rights and religious freedom violations.
In September, Secretary of State Powell designated Vietnam a "Country of Particular Concern" for severe violations of religious freedom. Due to inadequate overall progress on human rights, the United States again declined to hold a formal session of its bilateral human rights dialogue with Vietnam in 2004. United States officials continued to make clear to the Government of Vietnam that the United States is seeking a substantive, results-based dialogue.
The United States supported increased legal transparency in Vietnam by funding a four-year program to help the Government develop and codify a stronger and more transparent legal and regulatory framework as part of the implementation of the U.S.-Vietnam Bilateral Trade Agreement. Among the 2004 activities of this program were 33 training and policy workshops, with 3,422 participants, and four study tours for senior legislative and judicial officials, as well as significant participation in the development of key pieces of legislation that move Vietnam closer to a private sector, market economy.
The United States sought to advance awareness of human rights and democracy issues in the media by funding four Vietnamese journalists to participate in an International Visitors Program entitled "U.S. Elections 2004," as well as another journalist and a judge on an International Visitors Program entitled "Law Enforcement and Community Development."
The United States continued its efforts to document violations of religious freedom in Vietnam and to raise concerns at all levels in interactions with the Government. For example, after 17 ethnic Hmong house church pastors were detained during a Bible study session in Ho Chi Minh City, Consulate General officers immediately contacted city officials and urged their release. The 17 pastors were released the next day, but were required to return to their home provinces in the Northwest Highlands. Mission diplomats continued to monitor their situation after their return. The Mission put a particular focus on urging provincial authorities in Vietnam’s Central Highlands to offer more opportunities for legal worship by the region’s burgeoning Protestant population. The number of officially recognized Protestant churches in the Central Highlands increased by over 50 percent in 2004, although overall numbers remained disappointingly low following the forced closure of hundreds of house churches in 2001 and 2002. In late 2004, government pressure on non-recognized house churches in some regions appeared to ease somewhat. In June, the Government promulgated a new Ordinance on Religion about which some religious leaders are cautiously optimistic, although implementing regulations had not yet been released as of the end of the reporting period.
The United States has continued to encourage the Vietnamese Government to ratify additional International Labor Organization conventions addressing worker rights and recognizing core worker rights. The Government is working toward ratification of Conventions 29 and 105 on forced labor. The United States also continues to stress the need to discuss issues surrounding freedom of association and collective bargaining. In August 2004, U.S. Deputy Undersecretary of Labor Arnold Levine and Vice Minister Nguyen Luong Trao of the Vietnamese Ministry of Labor, Invalids and Social Affairs (MOLISA) held a labor dialogue in Washington, D.C. The discussion was the third since the signing of a memorandum of understanding in November 2000 and covered Vietnam’s wide-ranging efforts to improve labor conditions.
The United States funded several programs that address the protection of worker rights. With funds from the U.S. Labor Department, the United States has implemented, in cooperation with MOLISA, a number of multi-year programs to advance labor rights in Vietnam. These include a program to improve employment opportunities for people with disabilities, a project to build the capacity of the Government to combat the problem of child labor and a program on dispute prevention and resolution in 70 enterprises located in seven provinces. Another U.S.-funded program has worked with the Government of Vietnam to draft a new law on social insurance, which the Government anticipates will be approved by the National Assembly in 2005. Finally, the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief has provided additional funding to an existing project addressing HIV/AIDS in the workplace, which works at the national and enterprise levels to establish policies to protect the rights of workers who have or are affected by HIV/AIDS.
To combat trafficking in persons, the United States sponsored international non-governmental organizations which operated a shelter for victims of trafficking repatriated from Cambodian brothels, as well as a number of programs to assist returned victims of trafficking and protect women and children in high-risk areas by providing awareness training, vocational training and economic opportunity through micro-credit programs. United States officials at all levels continued to raise trafficking in persons issues with their Vietnamese counterparts. Mission officers played an important role in coordinating and focusing the international community’s response to the trafficking problem in Vietnam.
(Released on March 28, 2005)
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