WASHINGTON—U.S. Senator Bill Cassidy, M.D. (R-LA) introduced the Vietnam Human Rights Act (S. 2632), sending a message to the Vietnamese government that continued repression of its citizens is unacceptable as part of United States-Vietnam relations.
“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,” said Cassidy. “The Vietnamese community is a part of the fabric of our nation. 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.”
Vietnam is a one-party state that restricts freedoms of association, opinion, peaceful assembly, the press, and tightly controls access to the Internet and telecommunication. Human rights advocates and others exercising their political and religious rights are detained under inhumane conditions.
Identical legislation, H.R.2140, was introduced in the U.S. House of Representatives. It has bipartisan support and is endorsed by more than 25 organizations. Dr. Cassidy is a member of the Senate Human Rights Caucus.
View the legislation here and see a summary below:
The Vietnam Human Rights Act states:
· The U.S. Government may not provide more non-humanitarian assistance than was provided in Fiscal Year 2014, directly or indirectly to the Government of Vietnam, unless the President certifies that certain conditions were met in the preceding 12 months. It includes a waiver that allows the President to continue non-humanitarian assistance if it is in the national interest of the United States;
· Congress believes that if the U.S. Government is to continue to ease the current prohibition on selling lethal military equipment to Vietnam, it should require the Government of Vietnam to make significant advances in protecting human rights;
· The U.S. Government should try to overcome Radio Free Asia jamming and that educational and cultural exchanges and programs with Vietnam should promote freedom, democracy, and religious and ethnic diversity;
· The U.S. Department of State should designate Vietnam a country of particular concern due to violations of religious freedom and state that Vietnam should receive the lowest designation, Tier 3, in the annual report on human trafficking;
· The Secretary of State must submit an annual report to Congress on the implementation of this legislation. The report should also include a list of people detained in Vietnam for pursuing their human rights and the status of the development of rule of law in Vietnam.