“Human Rights are a central part of the U.S.- Vietnam relationship,” said U.S. Acting Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Democracy, Human Rights and Labor Scott Busby, speaking recently at a reception in Falls Church, Virginia
“They will remain a central part of our relationship and we will continue to make that point to Vietnamese officials wherever and whenever we can.”
The United States and Vietnam continue to improve economic and trade ties, including through the Trans-Pacific Partnership, a 21st century high standard free trade agreement. The two nations are increasing diplomatic coordination to support a peaceful resolution to disputes in the South China Sea and damming in the Mekong River. Vietnam and the United States also enjoy strong people-to-people relations through exchanges, educational programs and the funding of health initiatives.
However, the United States’ relationship with Vietnam cannot reach its full potential until there are improvements in Vietnam’s human rights situation.
Internet freedom is an area of particular concern. The Vietnamese government passed a decree in August that will impose further restrictions on the way the Internet is accessed and used in Vietnam when it comes into effect September 1. The decree appears to be inconsistent with Vietnam’s commitments to respect the freedom of expression. Additionally, the Vietnamese government continues to crack down on bloggers and dissidents, arresting many.
“We’ve spoken to the Vietnamese in very specific ways about what they can do to improve human rights,” said U.S. Ambassador to Vietnam David Shear.
“Including releasing more political prisoners — releasing all political prisoners; including improving the conditions of worship; including improvements in freedom of religion. We have asked them to ratify the convention against torture and they committed to doing that in the joint statement released recently during President [Truong Tan] Sang’s visit here to Washington.”
The United States, said Ambassador Shear, supports “a strong, prosperous, and independent Vietnam, that respects human rights and the rule of law.”